Laboratory Waste Disposal
May 20, 2024

Laboratory or chemical waste is an inevitable byproduct of a lot of laboratory processes, whether your facility performs workday procedures or medical tests or you are an exotic laboratory research facility.

Laboratory waste disposal is a specific concern for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as there are more than 210 million pounds of chemical waste secondary to pharmaceutical manufacturing generated annually. Laboratory or chemical waste disposal is also a concern for state regulatory agencies.

Working with a waste management service, such as Environmental Marketing Services ensures your facility disposes of all hazardous materials safely and legally.

Guidelines for Laboratory Waste Disposal

The EPA categorizes hazardous chemical waste into two categories:

Listed Wastes

Listed hazardous waste does not exhibit toxic characteristics but are byproduct of processes that usually produce hazardous waste, therefore they require hazardous waste disposal methods.

Characteristic Wastes

Characteristic hazardous wastes possess dangerous characteristics, such as toxicity, reactivity, corrosivity, or ignitability.

There are numerous common drug formulas that meet the definitions of toxicity and ignitability, and there are drug formulas that could be a byproduct of processes that usually generate hazardous waste. Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to ensure you are following proper disposal methods for any laboratory waste materials.

When handling your laboratory waste:

  • Use containers that will not degrade if exposed to the chemical itself or sunlight
  • Keep all chemical substances separated. There should never be an unqualified staff member making decisions regarding the storage of chemicals
  • Chemical abbreviation sheets should be placed in obvious places to ensure all employees are certain about what is inside each container of your storage area
  • Designate a specific storage area and ensure it is labeled so no flammables or food items are introduced in this section
  • All containers in the storage area should be labeled, such as when received, when opened, when tested, etc.
  • An inventory should be kept of all in-house chemical wastes that are awaiting hazardous waste disposal services

The EPA deems it crucial that all facilities keep chemical wastes separated due to the propensity of their noxious characteristics when mixed. For this reason, there should be no individuals making decisions about chemical waste unless they have proper RCRA training or equivalent.

RCRA Training

RCRA training requirements include:

  • Identifying and characterizing waste
  • Scheduling hazardous waste shipments
  • Inspecting hazardous accumulation and waste storage areas
  • Maintaining record keeping and inventory
  • Labeling and marking containers
  • Maintenance of tanks or other equipment used in labs
  • Any emergency coordination
  • It is recommended that trained personnel receive refresher courses once a year

On-Site Chemical Material Identification and Inventory

A significant step in your laboratory waste disposal process is creating chemical material identification and inventory. Since 2012, OSHA’s HCS (Hazard Communication Standard) has aligned with the United Nations. Across the globe, there is a GHS (Globally Harmonized System) for standardizing chemical labeling and classification.

All facilities using chemicals must now be fully compliant with the GHS regulations. These regulations communicate hazard information and protective measures necessary in case of emergency. Under the new GHS, existing Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) have become obsolete. The old MSDSs now have to be reformatted into the newer ones under GHS. An accurate on-site chemical material identification and inventory is critical as it sets the baseline for compliance with these new regulations.

Environmental Marketing Services can assist your facility with the on-site material identification and inventory process. This process can include providing an inventory of hazardous chemicals, HazCom and GHS training your facility has provided, a written HazCom plan, GHS-compliant chemical labels, as well as updated SDSs for each chemical on site.

The benefit of having Environmental Marketing Services perform an on-site identification and inventory is the process will be streamlined. Beginning with an inventory list all the way through to ensuring the disposal of waste materials is done cost-effectively and efficiently allowing you to handle daily functions with peace of mind. Turnkey lab-pack service is a meticulous approach to waste management to ensure all regulations are followed and the complete process is handled on-site by knowledgeable professionals.

Separation of Chemicals for Laboratory Waste Disposal

Another benefit of having on-site waste management services, such as Environmental Marketing Service is the importance of separating chemicals. The tendency of chemical waste to combine their noxious characteristics when mixed makes it crucial they are separated during storage, packing, and transportation. Separation of chemicals has to be done by someone experienced and trained in chemical reactions, such as the staff at Environmental Marketing Service.

Having a system for reactive chemicals management in place makes it less likely for an expensive mistake to occur that could be criminal or litigable. Properly separated chemicals, especially during laboratory waste disposal ensure an inherently safer workplace.

Proper Laboratory Waste Disposal Procedures

All staff members or anyone working in a lab are responsible for the proper disposal of the waste materials generated. It is crucial hazardous waste be regulated from the moment it is generated until its disposal at an offsite waste disposal facility. All staff members or anyone working in a lab must comply with regulations and rules developed to satisfy diverse standards and regulations imposed by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.)

Among the many services offered by Environmental Marketing Service, including manufacturing, chemical, electronics and more are the medical and pharmaceutical waste disposal services. These services include:

Medical Waste Disposal

Medical waste refers to materials and substances generated by healthcare activities. These waste materials and substances can range from used syringes and needles to body parts, soiled dressings, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and radioactive materials. Below are some further instructions and procedures followed to properly dispose of medical waste materials.

Bio-Medical Waste Disposal

Bio-medical waste has to be separated from all waste. These materials should be placed in either a red bag once generated or a sharps container. Dry and non-sharp materials should be placed in a brown biohazard box lined in plastic. Bio-medical waste can include infectious waste, and contaminated PPE.

Various technologies are used in the treatment and disposal of these waste substances including:

  • Incineration
  • Inertization
  • Chemical disinfection
  • Microwave irradiation
  • Wet thermal treatment
  • Land disposal

The experts at Environmental Marketing Service will review your waste materials and choose the best treatment and disposal process possible.

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Pharmaceutical waste must be stored securely and separately from general waste materials. Separation avoids cross-contamination and ensures the hazardous pharmaceutical waste is properly disposed of by a licensed carrier, such as Environmental Marketing Service.

DEA Waste Management

Almost every state has a law banning the return of pharmaceuticals to pharmacy inventory once they have left the control of a pharmacist. These products and materials pose a viable threat to human lives and the environment if not disposed of properly. The DEA created a Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970 and to ensure your facility is following these regulations and any enacted since 1970, contact the experts at Environmental Marketing Service for proper disposal options.


Sharps include razors, needles, and more that are safely placed into red sharps containers.

Trace Chemotherapy Waste

Trace chemotherapy waste includes containers that have no observable content and PPE that have not become saturated. These items should be placed in yellow containers.

Innovative and Diverse Laboratory Waste Disposal

Environmental Marketing Services uses diverse methods ranging from converting waste into electric power, thermal treatment, and chemical mechanical systems, to steam sterilization, and more. When you partner with us in handling your facility’s laboratory waste disposal, you are partnering with an innovative leader in the industry.

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