Summer Cleanouts for School and College Science Laboratories
June 2, 2023

With summer fast approaching, the time to begin your chemical waste cleanout is here. School and college science laboratories need to learn which chemicals are no longer needed and dispose of them properly. These chemicals will include outdated, unidentified, unwanted, and other waste that needs to be handled as a hazardous material.
Now is the time to plan an appropriate chemical waste cleanout including proper disposal by creating a chemical management program.

This program will help your facility improve your chemical management practices by:

– Removing your unknown, outdated, unnecessary, and inappropriate chemicals from your laboratory
– Controlling and preventing future chemical mismanagement in your facility through policy and curriculum changes, training, and long-term management solutions
– Raising awareness concerning issues surrounding chemicals in your facility and creating sustainable solutions

Chemical Waste Cleanout in Your School or College Laboratory

When your student body leaves on summer break, it is a great time for a chemical waste cleanout. Typically, some staff members remain after the students leave so they will be able to help you determine which chemicals are no longer needed. These staff members can then also help order new supplies for the next school year.

Begin the cleanout process by creating an inventory of the chemicals remaining. This inventory will help you maximize your time when you have to arrange disposal and organize the chemicals that will remain in the lab. If you are unsure of disposal methods for any material, contact Environmental Marketing Services for advice.

Creating Your Chemical Inventory

Before beginning your inventory process, make sure all chemicals have been returned to their proper storage area. Look in fume hoods and ensure there were no chemicals left inside them. When you are certain all chemicals are where they should be, you are ready to begin making an inventory of what is on hand.

Check all chemical containers and ensure they are labeled properly with:
– The full name of the material
– The concentration of the chemical
– Any important hazardous information is listed on the label including how to handle the material

If you are unsure of how chemicals should be labeled, contact a specialist at Environmental Marketing Service for help. There are laws regarding proper labeling, so you want to ensure your facility is compliant with them. The guidelines set forth by the CDC will reduce any inherent hazards and these are the considerations your facility should follow:
– Ignition control
– Segregation of certain chemicals
– Temperature
– Ventilation

While performing your chemical waste cleanout and creating an inventory, keep in mind the basic rule surrounding these dangerous materials is you should not keep more than a three-year supply of each chemical. There are exceptions to this rule, and those working most often with them should have a valid reason if they are requesting more than a three-year supply of any chemical to be stored.

For each container your facility has in storage, you will need to:
– Record each chemical’s name
– Record the container’s size
– What type of material the container is made from, such as plastic or glass
– Record the amount (approximate) left inside each container
– Record whether the chemical is gas, solid, or liquid
– Record where the container can be located, such as on a shelf or which rack
– While going through this information on each chemical, check its container and make sure it is not failing. If it is compromised, place it inside a new container and relabel it appropriately and make sure it is closed securely

Inventory of Chemical Waste Cleanout

Besides the inventory you need to create recording chemicals that will stay inside your school or college laboratories, you also need to inventory the chemicals you will be disposing of. One good rule of thumb during your chemical waste cleanout is that if the chemical is not planned to be used, it should be disposed of.

Do not keep chemicals just because they have a remaining shelf life. Your laboratory should have an approved product list. Use this product list as your starting point to determine which chemicals you want to keep in the lab. Environmental Marketing Services will help with the disposal of all unwanted or needed hazardous materials.

Your laboratory should keep its SDS (Safety Data Sheets) on all unique substances in your inventory in a place where it is readily available for access. Your SDS can be hard copies or digital, whichever works best for your facility. All emergency responders and employees working with hazardous materials should know how to access this data. You will also want to alert your science department staff, and the school’s administration of the location of the SDS, and consider letting local emergency services know the location as well.

Along with your inventories of chemicals your lab will keep in storage and the list of chemicals that will require disposal, part of your chemical waste cleanout process should include checking your spill kits. These kits should be fully outfitted for the next school year.
The cleanout process in the lab should end by securing the chemical storage area and documenting which staff members will have access to it. The school’s administration should also have a copy of this employee list.

Chemical Waste Cleanout Disposal Process

The final steps in your chemical waste cleanout process will include disposing of the lab’s unneeded, unwanted, and expired chemicals. Along with these chemicals, you will want to dispose of leaking, damaged, or unlabeled containers of materials and those without proper lids. Do not pour any chemicals down the drain as this is an illegal act, and do not place any materials in your regular garbage.

Lab packing is a safe, specialized and compliant means in which to dispose of your chemical waste materials during cleanout. To prepare your materials for lab packing:
– Make sure all your containers are properly labeled.
– Talk to the specialists at Environmental Marketing Services for instructions on how to pack your chemical waste and the pickup location for your facility

Benefits of Chemical Waste Cleanout

While performing a chemical waste cleanout for your school or college laboratory, you will benefit from learning if there are any gaps in your inventory. It will uncover any oddball chemicals that previous staff members needed, but that need no longer exists. The inventory process will also benefit your facility by saving money when you learn some bulk ordering is not necessary. Not all bulk orders save money.

Another benefit of the waste cleanout process is learning what your facility needs to restock for the next school year. Your facility will also benefit by taking charge of your chemical inventory and taking a huge step toward reducing summer risks with these dangerous materials.

Where to Learn More About Waste Cleanout and Disposal for Your School’s Laboratory

EMSLLC (Environmental Marketing Services, LLC) looks forward to the opportunity to work with your school’s or college laboratory in performing a waste cleanout of dangerous chemicals. We understand how your facility needs to develop an innovative and cost-effective solution to your recycling and disposal processes. Talk to one of our specialists and learn how we can provide a green solution to these needs and help your school protect the environment as well as the humans in your community.

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