Fact Sheet for Colorado
Antifreeze is used as an engine coolant and contains ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is very toxic and is attractive to animals and small
children due to its sweet taste. Propylene glycol is significantly less toxic and has an acrid taste. Both of these products have a lime green color. Some vehicle manufacturers are now using an extended-life engine coolant that is orange colored and has a recommended service change interval of five years/100,000 miles.
The green coolants should never be mixed with the orange coolant, even in tiny amounts, or the extended life benefits of the orange coolant are lost.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has prepared a guidance document to help auto recyclers manage used antifreeze. Much of that information is included in the fact sheet below. You can access the link to the CDPHE's Used Antifreeze Compliance Bulletin under Other Relevant Resources.
Waste Classification. Waste antifreeze is not a listed hazardous waste under the federal hazardous waste regulations. However, it may be a hazardous waste depending on the contaminants it has picked up. The test used to find out if used antifreeze is a hazardous waste is called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP).
If your used antifreeze is determined to be a hazardous waste, you must manage it according to the hazardous waste rules. Listed below are the proper management requirements or see the for more detailed information.
Recycling. Acceptable methods of managing used antifreeze include recycling, disposal at a hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility (TSDF), or discharge to a wastewater treatment plant with prior written approval of the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). Most wastewater treatment plants discourage sewering of used antifreeze, and many no longer allow discharges of antifreeze to their systems at all.
Antifreeze may be recycled by distillation, ion exchange, or filtration. Distillation and ion exchange restore the antifreeze to a high level of purity. Mechanical filtration may remove undissolved solids, but may not remove contaminants dissolved in the antifreeze. Mechanical filtration combined with other technologies, such as chemical filtration (which precipitates heavy metals out of used antifreeze), can be very effective in removing contaminants. After recycling, the antifreeze should be chemically refortified with rust and corrosion inhibitors, acid neutralizers, clogging and foaming agents, and pH buffers. Some major vehicle manufacturers allow recycled antifreeze meeting specific criteria to be used in vehicles under warranty. Check with vehicle manufacturers for further information. Used antifreeze should not be mixed with used oil as the mixture is not easily recycled.
Generators may recycle their own used antifreeze in any of several commercially available onsite recycling units. Alternatively, the generator may have his used antifreeze handled by a legitimate recycler. Many used oil recyclers also pick up used antifreeze for recycling. The recycler may recycle the used antifreeze at the generator's facility or may transport it to a recycling facility for reclamation. A hazardous waste determination must be made on all wastes produced by the recycling process, such as filters and sludges, and these wastes managed appropriately. Such wastes contain concentrated heavy metals and other contaminants removed from the antifreeze.
Although the recycling process does not require a treatment permit, the owner or operator of a facility that recycles contaminated antifreeze without storing it before it is recycled must notify the state of their hazardous waste activity and must utilize the manifest system. If the recycler stores used antifreeze that exhibits one or more characteristics of hazardous waste longer than 24 hours before recycling, the recycler must also obtain a hazardous waste storage permit.
Spills. When a chemical spill or release occurs in Colorado, there are a number of reporting and notification requirements that must be followed by the agency or individual responsible for the spill. These requirements tend to be confusing, and regulations often overlap.
At minimum, notify the Colorado 24-hour Emergency Spill/Release Reporting Line at 877-518-5608 and the Local Emergency Planning Committee at 303-273-1622, immediately or within 24-hours. Refer to the Spill Response Fact Sheet to determine your reporting requirements.
Links to the Regulations. Use the following links to view the regulations pertaining to used antifreeze management.
When an inspector comes to your facility, there are certain things he or she checks to see if you are in compliance with environmental regulations. It makes good sense for you to perform a "self-audit" and catch and correct problems before they result in penalties. Also, there are some compliance incentives associated with self-audits (see Audit Policy Page).
Use the following list to audit your antifreeze storage areas and management procedures.
Most regulations tell you what you have to do to be in compliance, but they don't explain how to do it. That's where "best management practices" come into play. BMPs are proven methods that help you to get into compliance and stay there. The following BMPs are recommended for used antifreeze storage areas and management procedures.
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