Planning Your Summer Clean-out
May 7, 2021

From your cleaning supply rooms to your science labs, educational facilities have a variety of hazardous waste. With the summer months fast approaching, a chemical waste cleanout must be planned to properly dispose of your hazardous wastes. This disposal must be completed safely and follow compliance rules. Environmental Marketing Services is the expert in the industry to help you plan your summer cleanout.

Facility managers of school and university buildings need to incorporate best practices into your hazardous waste management programs. There are specific protocols that have to be followed, and you have to have a clear understanding of the regulations to ensure your disposal plan for cleaning out at the year’s end is done properly. Environmental Marketing Services will help you create this plan.

Basic Regulations for Summer Hazardous Waste Cleanout

RCRA (Resource Conservation & Recovery Act) covers the regulations that state generators of hazardous waste are responsible for their own waste. The responsibility begins from the time you generate it to its final destruction. As a school or university, it is your responsibility for proper chemical waste cleanout, and you are required to follow all relevant local, state, and federal regulations that dictate how to manage and dispose of this waste.

Not following regulations put your school or university at risk to receive a penalty. Not following these regulations is a serious offense and could damage the environment where you live. It is imperative both janitorial teams and facility managers know and practice correct identification and storing of hazardous waste that is generated on-site.

Schools and universities typically hire hazardous waste services, such as Environmental Marketing Services to ensure their chemical waste cleanout is performed properly and compliant with government-mandated rules. Environmental Marketing Services also offers training in addition to their disposal services to ensure all employees in your facility who handle these wastes fully understand how they are to be handled up to the point where they are picked up for disposal.

Once the waste disposal service picks up your chemical waste cleanout, they transport it to a treatment facility. This cleanout plan should be implemented before teachers or professors leave for the summer. You do not want any dangerous materials left in your buildings during the summer months when maintenance to buildings is done.

Professors or college lab directors will often work during the summer months. This is the perfect time to schedule your disposal service as there will be fewer students in the area, and you will have more time to prep the chemical waste cleanout.

Why Plan Chemical Waste Cleanout

Most labs, in both schools and universities, are going to need new chemicals for the following year. It is a good practice to remove and dispose of old chemicals before the new supplies arrive. If you have any materials that are out of date, unlabeled, damaged, or not going to be used for any purpose, they should be part of your cleanout process. If the curriculum is changing which will result in certain chemicals no longer having a use, these should also be included in the cleanout.

In many labs, peroxide formers such as diethyl ether, and picric acid are present. These chemicals have a high risk of crystallization, and potential of explosion once the expiration date has passed. At this point, it is much more expensive to dispose of because of the required stabilization processes to render the container safe for transport.

What are Hazardous Wastes?

In a school or university setting, numerous commonly found materials have hazardous properties. When these materials are no longer usable, they become hazardous waste. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) defines hazardous waste as waste with properties that will make it capable of harming the environment and human health.
There are four characteristics of hazardous waste:
– Reactive
– Toxic
– Ignitable
– Corrosive

If you are uncertain which characteristic your waste material is, contact Environmental Marketing Services for advice, or review the safety data sheet sent with the materials.

Hot Spots to Include in Your Summer Cleanout Planning

One of the most common areas to find hazardous waste in a school or university is the science lab. Classrooms, where these hazardous materials are used, are also a hot spot to focus on with your summer cleanout planning. From cleaning the ventilation hoods to removing the materials for cleanout, proper handling, transporting and disposal must all be handled by trained employees who understand the dangers involved with hazardous waste.

Identifying Hazardous Waste

Hazardous wastes are required to be properly separated and identified by category. These categories include:
1. Corrosive acids and alkalines
These materials will easily corrode human tissue or materials. Acidic materials are made up of a pH less than 2, and alkaline materials are pH 12.5 or higher. Many of the cleaning supplies used in schools and universities contain corrosive characteristics.

2. Oxidizers
Oxidizers support combustion, and consist of chemicals often found in school or university laboratory classrooms. These materials include sodium perchlorate, peroxide, and bromine.
3. Flammables
Items identified as flammable will catch fire easily. These materials typically have a flashpoint of fewer than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Toxic Materials
Toxic materials include rat poison and are products that are fatal or harmful if absorbed or ingested. These are not generally found in a school setting, but if they are present, they will release toxic fumes if heated or mixed with water.
5. Universal Waste
Universal waste includes light bulbs and batteries. These materials must be handled the same as hazardous waste because they follow the same standards. Some states list items as non-hazardous materials that may be found during summer cleanout and include shampoos, soaps, or nonbleach detergents. However, regulations are different in each state. You will need to check with Environmental Marketing Services to learn how your state regulations affect these materials.

How to Safely Store Hazardous Waste during Summer Cleanout

When you begin your summer chemical waste cleanout there are best practices for storing, segregating, and bagging these materials you should understand. Knowing the regulations for handling chemical waste will ensure it is done safely and in compliance with the laws governing these wastes.

Separate Bins

Some waste materials are not compatible with others and must be in their separate bin. These bins must be designated for each of these categories:
– Corrosive acidic
– Corrosive alkaline
– Aerosols
– Flammables
– Universal waste
– Oxidizer

Seal Items Properly

Before you store any hazardous waste materials in a bin, they should be placed in individual sealed, plastic bags. This sealing will prevent them from causing a reaction. Double bag any that appear to look like they could leak, and add absorbents to prevent leaking from occurring.

Label Containers

When you have placed your items in a bin, label them as ‘Hazardous Waste.’ You should also list the accumulation date on the label. The labeling is necessary should an inspector visit your school. Proper labeling is one of the main things an inspector will look for.

Locate Safe Storage Area

Accumulated bins should be stored in a permanent, dedicated, neatly organized, and clean hazardous waste area. This area should be away from electrical panels, traffic areas, and consumable/perishable products.

Who to Contact About Summer Cleanout of Chemical Waste Materials

Environmental Marketing Services has more than ninety years of experience in hazardous waste disposal services. We understand your need to develop innovative and cost-effective solutions to cleaning out your labs for the summer. Let our professionals help you handle your chemical waste cleanout so you can rest assured the job is done safely and in compliance with all regulations.

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