Labs, Colleges, and Schools: Planning Your Fall Chemical Disposal
August 5, 2022
Chemical Waste Disposal

The summer break is almost over and now is the time to make sure all your hazardous chemical materials are up to date and any partial or unnecessary substances are disposed of before the next school year begins. Many labs perform a spring cleanout after students have left for their break. Sometimes not all materials have been removed that should have been, so now is the time to check your inventory.

Hazardous wastes have to be disposed of properly according to federal laws. Typically colleges and schools store hundreds and depending on the size of the facility, thousands of chemicals. These substances are used to control pests, degrease tools, perform classroom experiments, or disinfect areas of the facility. Planning a fall chemical waste disposal and making sure new chemicals have been received for the upcoming year should be done now before full staff and students return.

Not only is it important to plan your fall chemical disposal before the full staff and students return, but fall is also a busy time for disposal services. Scheduling your disposal services now could be in your best interest to prevent having to wait for crews to become available to handle your facility.

How to Plan Your Fall Chemical Disposal

Before your full staff comes back with students, and disposal services become backlogged, it is time to plan fall chemical disposal. Begin this task by completing a chemical inventory list to organize chemicals that need disposal. If you are not sure which chemicals need to be disposed of professionally under federal laws, talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Services.

1) Check all chemical containers to ensure they are properly labeled. The labels should include the full name of the substance, the concentration levels of the substance, and all hazard information related to the chemical for the right handling. Environmental Marketing Service is available to help your facility with this labeling to make sure all requirements are met under the law.

2) The CDC has guidelines to follow for the proper storage of chemicals. You can reduce the risk involved with chemicals when you follow these guidelines. Storage area considerations to make include: segregation, ventilation, temperature, and ignition control.

One basic rule of thumb to follow is to not keep more than a three-year supply of any chemical in your facility (unless there is a valid need.) Environmental Marketing Services can help with any questions you have regarding the storage of chemicals.

3) All containers in your storage area should be recorded with this information:
– The name of the chemical
– The size of the container the chemical is stored in
– The material the container is made from
– The approximate amount left inside each container
– The state of the chemical, such as gas, liquid, or gas
– Identify where the chemical is located, for example, the room it is in, and on which rack or shelf

4) Ensure all containers are in good condition. If you have any that are failing, you need to transfer the chemical into a new container.

5) During this fall chemical waste disposal project, you will need all chemicals being disposed of identified. Another rule of thumb to follow for deciding which to dispose of is if there is no need for a chemical, do not keep it. This rule applies even to those that still have shelf life remaining.

6) Along with disposal planning, now is also a great time to make sure your SDSs (Safety Data Sheets) are up to date. Your facility needs to have this information readily available at all times. These sheets can be either hard copies or electronic ones as long you have easy access to them for emergency responders and employees. Alert all officials in your facility where this information is kept as well as all science departments and their staff.

7) Another check you should complete before the new year begins is to ensure your chemical spill kits are fully equipped for the upcoming year.

8) Make sure your chemical storage area is secured and document everyone who has access to it. Give a copy of the list of those with access to your school’s administration.

Preparing for Your Fall Chemical Waste Disposal

Your fall chemical waste disposal will wrap up by disposing of your unneeded or expired chemicals. The ones to especially watch for include those that are leaking, containers without proper lids, damaged containers, and any containers without a label. None of these hazardous chemicals can be poured down the drain, or dumped in your regular garbage, they must be handled by a proper chemical waste disposal service, such as Environmental Marketing Services.

– Your chemical waste disposal can now be lab packed:
Separate all of the chemical containers you plan to have disposed of from what will be kept on site, but do not remove the chemicals from the storage area. Environmental Marketing Services will let you about the pickup location for your institution.
– Make sure all your containers are correctly labeled
Environmental Marketing Services will answer any questions you or those in your facility have regarding lab packing procedures.

Proper Handling of Chemical Waste

Even the most experienced chemical waste disposal personnel can make mistakes when working with hazardous materials in a lab. Sometimes despite all the precautions taken, exposure can happen that causes an illness, accident, and in some instances death. These incidents can leave your facility vulnerable to lawsuits and fines.

Proper hazardous waste management, handling, and prevention require emergency preparation, training, and knowledge of the materials being used. Campus officials, those in charge of these dangerous substances, must have answers to four very important questions to ensure your facility lowers its hazmat risk:

1. What is the location of your hazardous materials?
Corrosive, reactive, toxic, and flammable substances can be found all over your campus. These substances are not limited to drums of chemicals or gasoline tanks. Corrosive or toxic materials can be found everywhere from fluorescent lamps to electronic devices to batteries, paints, and even thermometers.

2. How are accidents and injuries prevented?
One of the first steps your facility should have taken to answer this question is to have properly labeled all hazardous chemicals. There should be a room-by-room inventory identifying materials inside each. These materials should be labeled and recorded. Having this inventory process ensures your chemical containers can be monitored when they become outdated or unnecessary. It will make your chemical waste disposal process much easier and quicker.

3. What is the best method to use for chemical waste disposal?
If your facility is large, you may have a much larger quantity of hazardous materials than the smaller schools. No matter what your size is, however, even though amounts are different, you still have a variety of highly hazardous substances.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, all chemical waste disposals have to be done under the best practices for environmental stewardship. This means no matter what size facility you are in, you are still required under the law to properly follow chemical waste disposal rules.

4. How can your school maintain safety and still keep disposal and handling costs down?
Smaller schools find dealing with the disposal of chemical waste a challenge as they do not have large volumes, but do have a variety needing the right disposal method. One way to keep your costs down in smaller facilities is to establish an annual contract for chemical waste disposal from your local disposal service.

Environmental Marketing Services can help you lower your costs with advice on combining drums or setting up schedules. Contact us today and learn how we can help you with your fall chemical waste disposal.

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