What is Lab Pack Management?: The Removal of Lab Waste in Schools, Laboratories, and Government Agencies
July 8, 2022
Lab Pack Management

When an educational facility, medical center, warehouse, government agency, or laboratory generates an abundance of hazardous waste materials, they have to properly dispose of it every year. It can be a challenging, time-consuming, and costly task to dispose of these materials. These hazardous wastes must be disposed of properly to ensure there are no risks to public safety and health. Lab Pack management is the solution to this task as it is a cost-effective, efficient means for these organizations to properly handle the disposal of their hazardous wastes.

Definition of a Lab Pack

Generally speaking, these packs are a sturdy, large container that is used to transport smaller containers of hazardous waste materials. This process involves packing various smaller containers into a large drum which typically holds up to fifty-five gallons of waste. All of the smaller containers inside this drum (lab pack) must be carefully categorized and cushioned with dormant material so that transport is safe while these chemicals are being taken for disposal.

The main facilities that use these packs are laboratories and other industries which produce chemical waste. This process is a cost-effective and efficient option for transporting hazardous chemicals off-site. The large drums are filled with several small containers of chemicals which are similar, such as oxidizers, flammables, or acids. Each container must be labeled with its contents or assigned a shipping name to make sorting easier.

When these packs reach the hazardous waste management service, they are further consolidated and prepared for the best course of disposal. Depending on the waste material, these packs are recycled, incinerated, or sent to a landfill. Some of the packs, again depending on the waste, will need to be specially treated, stabilized, or neutralized. Another process of disposal is to send some chemicals for fuel blending. These disposal method options allow hazardous waste management services to dispose of the chemical waste more efficiently.

The ‘pack’ management system gives generators peace of mind that their hazardous waste materials are handled properly. These wastes are marked, packed, and disposed of with care. Cleaning out your expired or unused chemicals from your facility also protects your employees from potential dangers involved with unwanted materials.

Why Facilities Use Lab Packs

If hazardous waste materials are disposed of down a drain or placed with regular garbage, they can threaten the health of humans in the area and damage the environment. When these materials are released into the environment, they can contaminate surface and ground waters, along with your drinking water. Because of the threat to human health and the environment these chemicals can indirectly cause, organizations and companies are required by law to prioritize their disposal of all hazardous waste materials.

Using the pack management system organizes your unused and expired chemicals that you cannot dispose of through standard garbage removal. Federal standards are in place to make sure hazardous materials are properly transported, treated, and disposed of. Following the lab pack guidelines, ensures your facility is doing everything possible to protect your students, employees, community, and environment. These guidelines will also ensure your facility avoids fines and punitive measures.

If your facility is an educational institute, it is your responsibility as a generator of hazardous waste materials to dispose of your lab wastes at the end of each term. Other agencies, such as USDA labs, police departments, County/City wastewater treatment plants, and any other generators of hazardous waste are also responsible for the proper disposal of these materials. If you are uncertain which materials should be placed in a lab pack, contact the experts at Environmental Marketing Services for more information.

Outside of the safety measures, the use of these packs provides your facility, when making sure you have the process properly in place, it will ensure your facility does incur any fines or penalties. There are surprise inspections performed by both state and federal agencies to make sure all laws are being followed. Violations can include dumping mercury incorrectly, not providing essential chemical waste management training, or having open containers of lab waste sitting out. Other preventable violations can be found when materials are not stored properly, or materials have been mislabeled.

What Materials Can Be Transported in a Lab Pack?

These are the materials typically disposed of in lab packs:
– Explosive, pyrophoric, flammable, or toxic materials
– Reagents, bases, and acids
– Solvents
– Oxidizers
– TSCA chemicals (Toxic Substances Control Act)
– Radioactive materials
– Reactive materials from metals
– Disinfecting and cleaning agents
– DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) substances
– Universal wastes
– Organic peroxides
– Unlabeled and unknown containers
– Mixed wastes

There are different classes of hazardous wastes under federal guidelines. If you are unsure how to group or label your hazardous materials, contact Environmental Marketing Services for help. It would be both wise and beneficial for your facility to consult with EMS to make sure you are following the stringent regulations regarding your lab waste.

Regulations for Hazardous Waste in Lab Packs

Potentially hazardous wastes must be disposed of properly under federal laws. The EPA also has guidelines that your facility must follow for these packs. The EPA has two regulatory acts in place you should be familiar with:

1. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act- RCRA
The EPA, through the RCRA, has complete authority to control hazardous waste from the time you generate it and right through to its disposal. The EPA’s main job is to monitor facilities and make sure they comply with their guidelines in correctly following proper disposal practices.
Since the creation of the RCRA, several amendments have been made to increase the EPA’s authority in controlling hazardous waste. One of the most noteworthy ones is the LDR (Land Disposal Restrictions) which ensures no hazardous wastes are disposed of on land. This amendment eliminates the possibility of hazardous wastes contaminating water supplies and groundwater.

2. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability (CERCLA)
This act is often referred to as the ‘superfund’ and regulates chemical waste disposal. It designates a ‘superfund’ specified to be used in cleaning up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous wastes. The ‘superfund’ is used when cleaning up accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of contaminants and pollutants into the environment. Under this act, the EPA is allowed to locate anyone responsible for hazardous materials being released and hold them accountable for any cleanup processes no matter what their practice was during the generation.

How to Choose the Right Hazardous Waste Service for Your Lab Packs

When your facility looks for the right hazardous waste service, ensure they are up-to-date with all regulatory requirements, are EPA-compliant, and certified. You will also want to check that their staff is up-to-date in their training and that they have a skilled, experienced chemist on hand. Another requirement you will want to ensure the service provides is a detailed cleanup crew and that they will fill out all the proper paperwork for complete lab decommissioning.

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