Spent antifreeze is regulated as a dangerous waste because it may contain ethylene glycol, lead, and other hazardous contaminants. Businesses that deal with antifreeze can learn to recycle spent antifreeze, which avoids the need to count it as dangerous waste and possibly affect your generator category.

Only ethylene-based antifreeze can become "spent antifreeze" and then be recycled.

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If you are a household or individual looking for ways to recycle household items, please go to 1-800-RECYCLE.

How to handle spent antifreeze

  • Never pour spent antifreeze down or on:
    • The ground.
    • Sewers.
    • Storm drains.
    • Septic tanks.
    • Dry wells.
  • Keep used antifreeze equipment (funnels, pads, storage containers) separate from equipment used with other wastes.
  • Drain antifreeze from radiators and heater cores as soon as possible to prevent spills.
  • Keep spill control equipment in a central location and accessible to employees. Train employees to use it.
  • Routinely recycle spent antifreeze so you accumulate less.

If you do not recycle your spent antifreeze, you must handle it as a dangerous waste. Find more information about the rules for recycling spent antifreeze in the Dangerous Waste Regulations (WAC 173-303-522).

Keep all types of antifreeze separate

It's important to keep spent and usable antifreeze separate from each other, other liquids and chemicals, and to prevent contamination.

  • Usable: Antifreeze that can be used or reused in your shop without further treatment.
  • Spent: Antifreeze that is completely spent and cannot be reused without recycling.

How to store antifreeze

Ensure you store antifreeze using proper containment to prevent releases:

  • Use suitable containers (metal or plastic barrels or jugs) in good condition.
  • Keep lids in place at all times, except when adding or removing waste.
  • Store usable and spent antifreeze separately from each other.
  • Do not mix with other liquids and chemicals, including used oil, fuels, degreasers, radiator flush chemicals. Doing so could make usable antifreeze unusable, and spent antifreeze non-recyclable.
  • Make sure you have secondary containment in place or store containers on a non-porous concrete surface.

Label usable and spent antifreeze

Follow the rules for labeling dangerous waste and label your containers:

  • For usable: Label the container "usable antifreeze."
  • For spent: Label the container "spent antifreeze."

Recommended: Add the label "toxic" for either of the above.

How to recycle spent antifreeze

Businesses have three options for recycling spent antifreeze. Regardless of the option you choose, you must keep records.

Frequently asked questions