Summer Cleanouts For School and College Science Laboratories
June 7, 2022

With the changing of seasons comes the closing of classrooms, meaning it’s time to start a chemical cleanout of school and college science laboratories. During the summer months, a lot of your non-teaching staff will remain on campus to clean up classrooms, lavatories, kitchens, science labs, and all other areas of your building or buildings. This is the time to review all chemicals in stock so old chemical waste can be disposed of, and make room for ordering new chemical supplies for the next school year.

Schools and colleges store hundreds, sometimes thousands of chemicals. These materials are used to perform classroom experiments, control pests, disinfect facilities, or degrease tools. Your student’s safety and that of the staff can be seriously compromised if your facility is not properly labeling chemicals, retaining expired chemicals, or not storing these materials properly.

Your facility should perform a chemical cleanout at least once a year, and the month of June when summer break begins is a perfect time.

Closing Out the Chemical Laboratory

Summer break for the students makes it a perfect time to perform your chemical cleanout. The first month of the break, June, is ideal as some teaching staff may still be on hand to help determine which chemicals can be disposed of, and they can reorder new supplies for those that will be needed for the next academic year.

To begin closing out a chemical laboratory, you should start by creating a chemical inventory that will maximize your time for organizing chemical waste and arranging for its disposal. If there are any chemicals you or the cleaning staff are unsure of in regards to its disposal method, contact Environmental Marketing Services.
Once you’ve created your chemical inventory and determined your waste needs, other lab closing tasks can be done to make your next year-end process easier and quicker.

How to Create Chemical Inventory

Begin your chemical inventory by ensuring all chemicals have been back in their proper storage area. You should also check your fume hoods to make sure no chemicals were left inside. Once all chemicals have been returned to their proper storage area, complete inventory by:
Making sure all chemical containers are correctly labeled with the full substance name, the concentration of the chemical, and any important hazard information related to the chemical for handling. Environmental Marketing Services can help your facility with this task if your staff is unsure as to proper labeling requirements under the law.

Chemicals should be stored according to the CDC’s guidelines. Inherent hazards of chemicals are reduced when following these requirements. Chemical storage area considerations include ignition control, temperature, segregation, and ventilation. A basic rule is not to keep more than a three-year supply of each chemical unless there is a valid need for your facility to keep more. You can check with Environmental Marketing Services if you are unsure as to how your chemicals should be stored.

For each of the containers in your storage area, you need to:
– Record the substance name
– Size of the container
– What the container is made of, such as glass or plastic
– List the approximate amount remaining in the container
– State whether the chemical is solid, liquid, or gas
– Tell where it is located including room, rack, or shelf.
– Check the condition of each container. If any containers are failing, it should be placed inside a new container and then appropriately labeled, and securely closed.

During this chemical cleanout and inventory, you will need to identify the chemicals that will be disposed of. A good plan with chemical cleanout is if you don’t plan to use it, lose it. You do not need to keep chemicals because they have a remaining shelf life. You can use your facility’s approved product list as a starting point as to which chemicals you should keep. Contact Environmental Marketing Services for proper disposal of any waste materials.
Maintain your Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all your unique substances in your inventory. This information needs to be readily available. SDSs can either be electronic or hard copies as long as you have easy access to them for all employees and emergency responders. Advise all science departments and their staff, along with your school’s administration, the location of your SDS. Some schools recommend also sharing this list with local fire departments, law enforcement, and EMS.

Check your chemical spill kits and ensure they are fully outfitted for the next academic year.
Secure your chemical storage area and document which members of the staff have access to it. This list of names should be shared with your school’s administration.

Preparing Chemical Cleanout for Disposal

Your chemical cleanout process will wrap up by disposing of your expired or unneeded chemicals. You will also want to dispose of any unlabeled, damaged, leaking, or containers that do not have proper lids. Remember it is against the law to pour chemicals into your trash or down the drain. Contact Environmental Marketing Service for lab packing as this is a specialized, safe, and compliant means to handle chemical cleanout.

When preparing for lab packing:
– Combine your chemicals from across the lab into a single lab pack, but do not move them from their respective areas. Environmental Marketing Services will provide you with information as to the pickup location for your facility.
– Ensure all containers are properly labeled.
– Talk to Environmental Marketing Services if you have questions regarding lab packing and what their services include for this process.

Chemical Cleanout Process Helps With Ordering New Chemicals and Reduces Bulk Orders

The chemical cleanout process will help your facility discover any gaps in your inventory. This process also helps you clean out any odd-ball chemicals that may have been ordered by previous professors. This is also a process that will eliminate ordering bulk items that may not be necessary. It is not always fiscally wise to buy chemicals in bulk. Through the cleanout process, you will also learn which chemicals need to be restocked for the following school year.

Chemical Cleanout Reduces Summer Risks

When you take charge of your chemical inventory, you are taking a significant step toward managing your summer risks.

Where to Learn More About Summer Cleanouts for Your School’s Laboratory

Environmental Marketing Services have over ninety years of combined experience in chemical waste disposal. We have the expertise needed for handling laboratory chemicals and are ready to expedite your chemical waste disposal reliably. We understand your objectives for creating a cost-effective solution to your recycling and waste disposal needs, so contact us today and learn how we can help with your lab’s summer cleanout.

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