Chemistry Lab Waste Disposal
June 17, 2024

Laboratories generate a variety of chemical waste products that are required to be properly labeled, stored, and disposed of under federal and local laws. These waste products include heat transfer fluids, used pump oils, organic solvents, and corrosive liquids. Chemical waste disposal is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) at the federal level under the RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.)

Chemical waste disposal must follow strict regulations to avoid your facility facing fines and to protect your staff and the environment. Environmental Marketing Service can create a plan for your disposal needs to ensure your facility safeguards human life and environmental health.

Chemical Waste Disposal in Labs

State, federal, and local laws regulate how to safely dispose of chemical waste in laboratories. Not following these strict regulations can result in disastrous consequences for your community, environment, and facility. The challenge in following these regulations is that procedures vary based on the chemical waste. Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to learn which of your chemistry lab materials need to be handled as hazardous chemical waste disposal.

Laboratory personnel need to treat all waste chemical liquids, solids, and containerized gases as hazardous unless they have been confirmed to be non-hazardous waste by a professional. Laboratory chemicals become ‘waste’ when they are no longer needed or have an intended use. Additionally, any spilled chemicals and the absorbent material used to wipe up the spill are to be considered hazardous waste and disposed of properly. 

These are some of the general recommendations to use in disposing of lab chemicals.

Checking the SDS (Safety Data Sheet)

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires chemical manufacturers to provide SDSs on all hazardous chemicals. These data sheets were once known as the Material Safety Data Sheets and are standardized documents containing safety and health information on specific chemicals. The information on these documents contain information, such as:

  • Properties of the chemical
  • Associated environmental and health hazards
  • Protective measures to be taken when handling the chemicals by the lab technicians
  • All other safety precautions necessary for properly storing and transporting the chemical
  • Description of proper containers that can be used during disposal of the chemical
  • Recommended disposal methods
  • Language recommending or discouraging different types of disposal methods

Checking the SDSs on your facility’s chemicals will provide useful and necessary information for disposing of any unused or unwanted materials during chemical waste disposal methods. 

Separate Chemicals

Do not combine chemicals into one container. The combination of two different types of chemicals can generate toxic vapors or cause a dangerous reaction, such as an explosion or fire. It is easier and safer for your lab to put a policy in place that does not allow for any chemicals to get combined, rather then researching which ones can or cannot be put together. 

Hazardous chemical wastes should be kept separate whenever possible. When hazardous wastes are mixed with non-hazardous waste, it can increase your volume of waste materials needing disposal. This increase will affect your disposal costs because of the differences in disposal options for certain hazardous wastes. 

Laboratory liquid wastes should be placed in leak proof containers. Checking the SDSs on your chemicals for storage rules will also provide information regarding ventilation requirements, such as the maximum level storage container should be filled to in order to allow for vapor expansion.

Identification and Labeling

Once the chemical waste has been separated, it should be properly identified and labeled. Every waste container needs a label to identify the contents. Labels cannot be vague, such as simply stating the chemical is corrosive. This information is valuable, however, it does not identify the name of the chemical. 

Abbreviations cannot be used. The name of the chemical needs to be spelled out to avoid confusion. Hazardous, chemical waste needs to be labeled according to federal and state laws. Proper labeling includes information, such as:

  • Information regarding the generator
  • An EPA ID tracking number or manifest number
  • The date accumulation in the container began
  • The physical state and composition of the chemical
  • Properties of the chemical

The term, ‘chemical’ includes items containing chemicals, such as glues, varnishes, disinfectants, solvents, ethidium bromide gels, paints, and degreasers, as well as stock chemicals and chemical solutions used during laboratory processes. Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to learn more about how to label your facility’s hazardous waste. 

Once your chemical waste has been properly prepared for disposal, contact Environmental Marketing Service, an experienced disposal company, to remove and transfer your waste to its final destination. Depending on the type of your chemical waste materials, the disposal may be at a TSDF (Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility), a landfill, or other location.

How to Store Chemical Waste

Hazardous chemical waste needs to be stored in containers made of materials that are compatible with the waste. These containers need to be in good condition without leaks or any residue on the outside of the container.

Quick facts to know regarding the storage of chemical waste:

  • Hazardous waste should be stored in compatible containers
  • Containers storing hazardous waste must be closed at all times unless adding waste to contents
  • Label the containers of hazardous waste as soon as accumulation begins. The main hazard characteristics used for labeling are based on the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) and include flammable, corrosive, toxic, health hazard, oxidizer, and reactive. This information can be found on the SDS from the chemical manufacturer.
  • Segregate incompatible chemical waste materials. Segregation methods include storing in separate hoods, separate cabinets, or separate secondary containment containers such as tubs or 5-gallon buckets.
  • Never store or accumulate more than one quart of acute hazardous waste, or 55 gallons of hazardous waste. Your lab should schedule collections at a frequency to prevent exceeding these limits. Talk to Environmental Marketing Service to create a plan for your disposal needs.

Designate an isolated area of your laboratory for hazardous waste storage. These wastes should be stored with a secondary containment in case of spills. Secondary containments prevent spilled chemicals from reaching the hood, sink, or floor drains. 

Sealing Hazardous Chemical Waste in the Laboratory

Hazardous chemical waste containers have to be properly sealed to prevent spillage or leakage. These waste containers should have screw-type lid or another appropriate device. Do not use aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or other makeshift lid. The professionals at Environmental Marketing Service can answer any questions you have regarding the sealing of chemical waste containers in your lab. 

Disposing of Outdated Chemicals and Products

Outdated chemicals, hazardous, and non-hazardous products have to be properly disposed of or destroyed under federal and state regulations. Properly used product destruction is vital to maintain your company or lab’s reputation. Environmental Marketing Service provides the best solution for your off-specification, expired products, and raw material disposal.

Professional Chemical Waste Disposal

If you have questions on how to dispose of lab chemicals, talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to ensure your chemical waste is transported and disposed of following all regulations. We adhere to regulations and can schedule chemical waste disposal services in a timely and regular manner. We are committed to serving your lab with the latest technology by highly-trained technicians to ensure your chemical waste disposal is done safely and efficiently.

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