Spent antifreeze is regulated as a dangerous waste because it may contain lead and other hazardous contaminants. It may also contain ethylene glycol, which is toxic. Recycled antifreeze won’t affect your generator status and doesn't need to be counted as dangerous waste. If sent off site to be reclaimed, it doesn’t need to be manifested as a dangerous waste and you aren’t required to report it on the Dangerous Waste Annual Report.
If it is not recycled, you must handle antifreeze as a dangerous waste. The rules for recycling spent antifreeze are in WAC 173-303-522 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.
Contain spent antifreeze
- Use suitable containers in good condition for spent antifreeze: metal or plastic barrels or jugs.
- Keep lids in place at all times, except when adding or removing waste.
- Don't mix it with other wastes, including used oil, fuels, degreasers, or radiator flush chemicals. Keep it separate.
- Keep used antifreeze equipment (funnels, pads, storage containers) separate from equipment used in other waste.
- Make sure you have secondary containment in place.
- Store containers on a non-porous concrete surface.
Drain antifreeze from radiators and heater cores as soon as possible to prevent spills. Do not pour spent antifreeze in a sewer, storm drain, septic tank, or dry well. Never pour antifreeze on the ground.
Routinely recycle your antifreeze waste so you accumulate less.
Label spent antifreeze
Follow the rules for labeling dangerous waste. The risk for antifreeze is "toxic." Use two separate containers for your usable antifreeze and spent antifreeze. Label both containers "toxic."
- For antifreeze that can be reused in your shop without further treatment, label the container "usable antifreeze only."
- For antifreeze that is completely spent and cannot be reused without recycling, label the container "spent antifreeze only," for antifreeze that cannot be reused without recycling.
Are you going to recycle on site, off site, or use a mobile recycling vendor?
You can recycle antifreeze on site through reuse, distillation, filtration, or ion exchange. Filters from an antifreeze-recycling machine designate as dangerous waste.
You can use a hazardous waste service provider to send antifreeze off site for recycling. Keep records, and make sure it is properly recycled or disposed.
Mobile recycling vendor
Recycle your antifreeze with the help of a mobile van or truck equipped with a recycling unit that visits your facility and recycles spent antifreeze on site.
Keep recycling records
If you recycle spent antifreeze, you must keep good records. Spent antifreeze does not count toward your generator status when it is properly recycled.
Records needed (keep for 5 years)
Record your recycling activity: amount of antifreeze recycled, when, weight of dangerous waste filters, and sludge shipped off site.
If you have an on-site recycling machine, log the amount of antifreeze recycled each month.
Record the amount of spent antifreeze sent for recycling, when shipped, and to whom.
Record the amount of antifreeze recycled, by whom, and when.
Off-site and mobile recycling vendors may provide important information on their receipts. If you are shipping the antifreeze off site to be recycled, save your bills of lading, receipts, and any manifests, to prove your recycling activity. Keep these receipts for five years.
Ethylene glycol and propylene glycol
Ethylene glycol antifreeze typically designates as a Washington State-only WT02 toxic dangerous waste because of the presence of lead and other heavy metals. This designation is not needed if it's recycled.
You may use propylene glycol as a less-toxic alternative. This helps prevent poisoning children and pets. However, it is usually still a dangerous waste because of its metal content. Recycle propylene glycol separately from ethylene glycol antifreeze.
Prevent and report spills
Spill kits and spill plans are an important part of protecting workers and the environment. Keep spill control equipment in a central location and accessible to employees. Train employees to use it.
Extra requirements for transporters
If you transport spent antifreeze generated by others, you will need to keep paperwork. The shipping papers will need to say, “Material not regulated by DOT (Washington State Dangerous Waste Only, Toxic).” You also need an EPA/State Identification Number.