When working in a laboratory, hospital, manufacturing industry, or university, it is extremely important that you understand the importance of how to handle small containers of potentially hazardous materials. The chemicals used as well as paints, solvents, thinners, ink, and numerous other hazardous materials that become waste through your work must be stored, packed, shipped, and disposed of properly. You and any employees in your business or service need to know exactly what a ‘lab pack” is, and how they are used.
What is a Lab Pack?
A lab pack provides the proper packaging of damaged, out-of-date, or expired chemicals which are used during your daily productions. The amounts of these chemicals are smaller, so they are placed into smaller containers, which are then put into larger containers. Once in the larger container, they are ready to be properly shipped and disposed of by a hazardous waste service.
The lab pack is used quite frequently in University or school laboratories where they use small amounts of hazardous chemicals for teaching and demonstration purposes. These packs can also be used in industries other than educational whenever small amounts of chemicals become waste over a period of time.
The First Step in using Lab Packs is Identification
You will need a qualified individual on staff who is responsible for creating an inventory on your damaged, out-of-date, or expired chemicals that are ready for disposal. The inventory has to be accurately and thoroughly detailed regarding all materials that will be going into the lab pack. This step has to be completed before you are able to dispose of chemicals not be used or needed in the lab any longer.
How to Organize Materials for the Lab Pack
Containers from one-quarter ounce to gallon-sized jugs along with small vials get packed together into larger containers. Once the inventory is finished, everything that is placed into the large container has to be packed into a drum-sized ‘lab-pack’ container according to the ‘type’ of waste category it falls under.
This separation labeling would be like flammable items would be packed with other flammable materials, corrosive materials would be placed with other similar corrosive materials, and so on. You do not want to mix the different chemicals in with each other inside the larger container.
The size of your larger container- lab pack- is going to depend on what you are disposing of and the amount. You might only need a five-gallon jug, or you may need a cubic yard box, it will all depend on your specific amounts of waste.
Why You Have to Separate Your Waste
Separating or segregating your waste into categories is one of the most essential parts of the entire disposal process. Reactions of chemicals is a perilous situation and when compounds are improperly separated, and one or more small containers breaks or leaks allowing the waste to mix, you could have serious problems including health endangerments to those who are handling the waste.
It is imperative you have a staff member with the proper qualifications who knows exactly how chemicals react if they somehow get mixed during your storage and disposal process. If there should be an accident of any sort that would cause containers to leak or break during transport or storage of the large container, those chemicals must be innocuous of each other when they become mixed.
For added protection, an absorbent material should be placed inside the large drum with the small vials of chemicals in case of a break or leak of any small containers. This package of absorbent is the safest method of transporting chemicals.
Alternatives for Performing Lab Packing
Hazardous waste services have the personnel on hand who have been trained in the handling of waste materials and chemicals. If you do not have someone on staff who is qualified, contact Environmental Marketing Services and talk with them about working with you to safely pack your hazardous waste materials.
Environmental Marketing Services is here to help you with the proper handling of your hazardous waste. There are no contracts to sign and high cancellation fees for ending our service, we offer you what you need when you need it. If you only require hazardous waste pickup, that is the service we perform for you, and the only one you are billed for.
EMS is a full-service facility, able to offer you a complete range of services. It would benefit your business or service to contact us and find out how we can safely and adequately handle your hazardous waste materials.
How a Turnkey Service Can Help With Lab Packing
A turnkey service is a waste management service that is able to come into your facility and properly dispose of your waste. They work with your materials from the beginning of the process all the way through to the disposal process.
This service includes packing materials, preparing them for shipping with all the necessary labeling, transporting them for proper disposal, and fill out all required paperwork. This service generally provides all the containers needed to perform this operation.
There is an alternative service called the ‘pack on paper’ which provides you a qualified chemist to come in and analyze your waste. The chemist will look over your inventory list to see which chemicals your business or service uses, and then advise you on how to handle each of them. They do not perform any packaging; they will only give you directions to follow on how to do the process yourself.
The packaging process of hazardous wastes is very important. The turnkey service provides the safest method for you to dispose of your chemical waste as the consequences for not correctly packaging these materials is potentially atrocious. A typical procedure followed under this service includes:
- Reviewing your inventory list to understand what you need and know what your future requirements will be
- Identify each of the chemicals you use by name, determine their safety precautions, and outline their disposal requirements
- Separate or segregate your waste streams into groups that are compatible with each other
- Label each of the containers individually and place in group containers that have been approved by both DOT and EPA requirements
- Package the materials by following laws put in place by both the DOT and EPA agencies
- They will then transport those materials safely to a disposal site
- Upon reaching the disposal destination, all materials are unpacked to determine their integrity
- Finally, the contents inside of the lab packs are appropriately disposed of according to their individual requirements
Disposal of Lab Pack Materials
There are several agencies concerned with proper disposal of lab pack materials and have the governing power to enforce laws that must be followed when handling these materials. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency, and the LDR (Land Disposal Restrictions Program) are two of the agencies you must comply with when disposing of your lab pack contents.
Through these agencies, it has been made illegal for anyone to dump hazardous chemicals down the drain, or throw them out with regular garbage. It has also become illegal for anyone to combine chemicals in their lab pack without the process being overseen by a licensed chemist.
The EPA and LDR are not the only agencies involved with lab pack procedures. There are also strict rules and laws to follow by the DOT (Department of Transportation), and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) on how to safely handle, properly transport, and correctly treat lab pack chemicals.
With the stringent regulation involved in small-volume chemical disposal, you should contact a TSDF or RCRA approved hazardous waste service to handle waste removal to ensure you are complying with all laws.
- TSDF is a treatment, storage, and disposal facility working under regulations that are more stringent than those applied to generators or transporters of waste. These facilities provide the housekeeping provisions necessary for handling hazardous waste materials. Their regulations address the treatments, storage, and disposal of the different types of hazardous waste units.
- RCRA is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is a public law that created a framework defining the proper management of hazardous as well as non-hazardous solid waste materials. This program was mandated by Congress and gave the EPA the authority to create the RCRA as a means of controlling hazardous waste from what is called the ‘cradle-to-grave’ process. Through this program, they have created laws that govern the generation, treatment, storage, transportation, labeling, and disposal of hazardous waste material in our country.
Identifying Hazardous Waste
The RCRA deals with properly identifying your hazardous waste and created a coding system to make a standardized system so that all generators of waste identify and label their waste in the same manner. This system allows for anyone dealing with the waste, including those that handle, transport, and treat it, will know exactly what it is and know the protocol for properly handling and disposing of it.
Example of the coding system for RCRA waste:
- D001 identifies flammable liquids
- D002 identifies materials considered corrosive
- D003 would identify a material considered to be reactive
The three main goals of the RCRA were to improve the laws regarding waste disposal and ensure:
- People were protected when they come into contact with waste
- The environment is protected from improper disposal of waste
- Create recycling resources to reduce the amount of waste being disposed
When you are dealing with hazardous waste materials in your business or service, you want to follow the best and safest methods for handling, storing, transporting, and disposing of these chemicals. Using a waste management service provides you this by minimizing liabilities to yourself, your business, and the environment. Contact one of these professionals when you need to lab pack your generated or un-used hazardous waste.