How to Handle, Store and Safely Dispose of Used Propylene and Ethylene Glycol
If you are looking for methods to dispose of ethylene glycol safely, we applaud you for doing your part to protect others and the environment. In this article, we will discuss propylene glycol disposal and ethylene glycol disposal as advised by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
According to the Michigan DEQ: improper handling and disposal of old antifreeze can pose serious health and environmental risks. Even small amounts of ethylene glycol, if swallowed by people or pets, can cause health problems. Spent antifreeze (used antifreeze) poured onto the ground or into septic systems, storm drains, ditches, streams, lakes, etc., will contaminate the groundwater or surface water. Improper disposal may also result in drinking water supplies becoming contaminated. It is estimated that between 25 – 50% of the yearly worldwide 800 million gallons of coolant sold each year ends up improperly in the environment.
Please dispose responsibly and do your part to protect humans, animals, and the environment.
To read the full Waste Management Guidance report on Antifreeze from the Michigan DEQ, click here.
Dos & Don’ts of Glycol Storage and Disposal:
- DO keep new and waste antifreeze in clean, closed and labeled containers that are in good condition with no leaks or defects
- DO NOT store glycol in old food or beverage containers, or store where pets and children could access the antifreeze
- DO clean up any spills immediately and report the spill when required
- DO NOT mix with other wastes (including other antifreeze chemicals) unless the recycler will accept that mixture
- DO store glycol in a well-ventilated area
- DO NOT pour glycol down the drain, into a septic system or onto the ground for disposal
- DO recycle or dispose of it properly
How to Safely Dispose of Antifreeze:
- Understand the type of antifreeze you have. There are several technologies to make and recycle antifreeze. The two most common types are ethylene glycol (EG) and propylene glycol (PG). DOWTHERM™ SR-1 is ethylene glycol, DOWFROST™ HD is propylene glycol and DOWFROST™ is food grade propylene glycol. Click here to view the Safety Data Sheets which contain glycol properties and specifications.
- Unused glycol will keep if you follow the following tips to store glycol. Inhibited glycols have an indefinite shelf life if they are stored at ambient temperature and not exposed to direct sunlight. Uninhibited (plain) glycols have a shelf life of two years. Even when stored at ambient temperature and away from direct sunlight, uninhibited glycol oxidizes over time. By year two, discoloration and increased acidity becomes visually apparent.
- Pump the old antifreeze into a clean, closed and labeled container that is in good condition. Do not mix any other substances with the waste antifreeze. If you cannot avoid mixing with another substance, make sure to label the outside of the container with all substances found inside.
Find a local company to haul away the waste by conducting an internet search such as: "Antifreeze Waste Removal" + Zip code or + "Near Me." You may find two types of waste removal services:
- Waste removal and disposal, which hauls away and properly disposes of the spent antifreeze and containers
- Waste removal and recycling, which hauls away and then recycles the antifreeze at their own facility in order to resell it. Recyclers may even pay you a small fee to collect and keep your used antifreeze.
- You may be required to request an EPA ID number for your waste depending on state regulations. The local hauling company will be able to advise you on this and any further requirements for pick up.
- For more details on Recycling and Disposal options, please reference pages 8 - 9 of the Waste Management Guidance report on Antifreeze from the Michigan DEQ.
What to Do with Empty Glycol Pails, Drums & Totes?
- Containers in good condition can be rinsed and returned to Go Glycol Pros for money back through our Container Return Program. Click here to learn more.
- If you do not wish to return the containers to Go Glycol Pros for partial credit, you can recycle the empty containers through most local recycling programs (think: your weekly trash & recycling pick up). Since the pails, drums and totes are made of #2 HDPE plastic, one of the most widely accepted types of plastic, most facilities will accept our containers.
Disclaimer: Go Glycol Pros makes no claims to the accuracy, completeness or that above material is representative of current rules or regulations related to the disposal of glycol.