Fact Sheet for
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The following fact sheet was prepared by the ECAR Center staff. Once prepared, each ECAR Center fact sheet undergoes a review process with the applicable state environmental agency(ies). You can check on the status of the review process here. Please read the disclaimer on the status page. While we have tried to present a summary of the essential information on this topic, you should be aware that other items, such as local regulations, may apply to you.
What You Need to Know
Used antifreeze, through contact with a car's cooling system, may contain traces of fuel, oil and metal particles (including lead), making it a possible hazardous waste. If not properly managed and stored, these pollutants can seep into soil and groundwater harming people and the environment.
But in order to encourage recycling, the State of Pennsylvania will give you a break and exempt you from the burden of handling it according to the usual hazardous waste rules if you manage it properly. This fact sheet will tell you:
Antifreeze should be drained and collected from scrap automobiles, then be reused or recycled properly. If fluids are not drained from scrap automobiles prior to crushing, proper collection of the fluids must be incorporated in the crushing operation to prevent spilling the fluids onto the ground.
Waste Classification. Antifreeze is made up using some regulated chemicals including ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. During use, antifreeze can become contaminated with traces of fuel or metal particles. Used antifreeze should never be disposed of down storm drains or surface waters. It is illegal and dangerous to discharge antifreeze to sewer systems, septic tanks, dry wells or to the outdoors.
Due to its composition, used antifreeze can be considered a hazardous waste. However, if used antifreeze is recycled, it doesn't need to be treated as hazardous waste. It may be recycled by reuse, distillation, filtration, or ion exchange. Recycling can be done on-site or off-site by an antifreeze recycling service (see link under Other Related Resources below).
Used antifreeze that is not recycled and therefore, disposed of, must be handled in one of two ways:
See the ECAR Hazardous Waste fact sheet for details about storing, handling, and shipping of hazardous wastes.
*Antifreeze should not be disposed of into a septic system. If your salvage yard is connected to a public sewer system, disposal to the system may be permitted by the wastewater treatment plant. Check with your local water authority for permission.
Storage and Labeling. Store antifreeze in closed containers on an impermeable concrete surface with spill controls. Consider keeping antifreeze in two separate, closed containers: one for antifreeze that cannot be reused marked "Waste Antifreeze Only," and one marked "Usable Antifreeze Only."
Spills. Clean up all spills right away. Keep spill control equipment in a central location, accessible to all employees. All chemical spills that occur within the State of Pennsylvania must be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection IMMEDIATELY at 1-800-541-2050. You can report environmental emergencies and/or spills online through the Environmental Complaint Report Form.
Filter Management. Waste antifreeze filters and particulate generated from recycling antifreeze also must be managed as hazardous waste or proven that they are non-hazardous through laboratory analysis. See the ECAR Hazardous Waste fact sheet for additional information.
Record Keeping. Keep all receipts of used antifreeze shipments and filter management. The written receipts or records must include:
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.