Quick Guide to Chemical Waste Disposal

  • Note: Please refer to "Chemical Waste Guidelines" for complete requirements on chemical waste disposal.
  • Make sure that your waste container is compatible with your chemical waste (e.g. DO NOT use a metal container to store acids). (This is a regulatory requirement.)
  • Do not use soda bottles, food containers or other containers that could be confused with consumer products.
  • Make sure to accurately label your waste containers when chemical waste is first added. Use common chemical names or IUPAC nomenclature to describe each waste constituent. DO NOT use abbreviations, trade names or chemical symbols. It is important to list each constituent down to one percent. All heavy metals must be listed down to the parts per million range. (This is a regulatory requirement.)
  • NOTE: Use the orange chemical waste labels provided by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

  • Chemical containers must be kept tightly sealed at all times except when waste is being added. DO NOT leave caps off. (This is a regulatory requirement.)
  • DO NOT mix incompatible waste. Several serious incidents have occurred on campus and at other institutions as a result of incompatible wastes being mixed together. (This is a regulatory requirement.)
  • Chemical waste must be segregated according to hazard class and separated by spill control containment. (This is a regulatory requirement.)
  • All chemical waste must be disposed of through the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. DO NOT dispose of chemical waste via the sanitary sewer or normal trash. There are strict regulations governing sewer and solid waste discharges. Contact EHS or call 831-8475, if you have any questions.
  • Unknown chemicals are not acceptable. Accurately identify all chemical waste before disposing of through the Department of Environmental Health & Safety. If an unknown chemical CANNOT be identified contact EHS or call 831-8475.
  • DO NOT over fill liquid waste containers. Fill containers to a maximum of 90% full. Head space is needed for expansion and/or ease of dispensing.
  • Inventory your laboratory chemicals on a routine schedule (every six months is recommended). Request pickup for old, unwanted chemicals. Pay particular attention to chemicals that may become more hazardous with time such as ethyl ether, tetrahydrofuran, picric acid, etc.
  • It is very important that all gas cylinders be inspected on a regular basis. Make sure that the label is in good condition. Unknown gas cylinders present a serious hazard and are very expensive to identify and dispose. DO NOT refill gas cylinders, under any circumstances. All reuse/refilling must be completed by the original gas supplier.
  • Waste contaminated with chemicals generated from the clean up of chemical spills must also be disposed of as chemical waste. Place contaminated debris in an appropriate container such as a plastic bag, seal the container and accurately label the container with the contents (e.g. lab trash and paper towels contaminated with iodine crystals from small spill).
  • Contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety to request a chemical waste pick up.
  • Lab personnel who generate chemical waste must be trained on chemical waste disposal/waste minimization procedures on an annual basis. (This is a regulatory requirement.) The Department of Environmental Health & Safety offers this training monthly.

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety's chemical waste program is fairly simple and easy to use. Most of the requests/requirements listed above are basic and follow good laboratory protocol. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact EHS or call 831-8475.