Chemical waste management and disposal is highly regulated under federal and state laws. Improper container management and disposal may subject the University to serious financial and criminal penalties. The following summary provides guidance on how to manage waste in your lab properly.
What is Hazardous Waste?
Unwanted chemical stock or used chemicals are considered hazardous waste if they are:
- Ignitable (flammable liquid or solid, oxidizer, etc.)
- Reactive (unstable under normal conditions)
- Corrosive (pH ≤ 2 or ≥ 12.5)
- Contain certain metals or organics toxic to humans or that adversely impact the environment (more information and chemical lists)
Packaging Chemical Wastes
Place chemical waste in sealable containers that are compatible with the chemical being stored. Fill containers completely, but always leave 5-10% volume of headspace to allow for expansion.
Containers must be closed except when actively filling. Do not leave open funnels in hazardous waste accumulation containers. This not only constitutes a violation of NJ and Federal laws, but also affects air quality of the lab.
Similar wastes may be combined into containers so long as they are chemically compatible (e.g. acetone and methanol). If you routinely generate significant quantities of compatible chemicals, EHS provides complimentary 5-gallon carboys for this purpose through E-Quad, Frick and LTL stockrooms.
Labeling of Chemical Waste
Containers Hazardous waste containers must be labeled with:
- The words “HAZARDOUS WASTE”
- Names and approximate percentages of the principal chemical constituents
The most convenient way to capture this information is by using hazardous waste labels available through EHS. See label shown below.
Use full chemical names in English. Do not label waste with symbols, structural diagrams or product trade names (e.g., water not H2O, phenol not Trizol).
Labeling should be accurate and legible and must include contact information for the person knowledgeable about that specific waste.
Unidentified chemical wastes cannot be legally transported or disposed. The responsibility for correctly identifying waste rests with the person generating the waste. Do not bring unidentified wastes to the pickup site. Contact EHS for guidance. The department or laboratory may be charged for any testing/analysis related to unknown chemicals.
Storing Chemical Wastes
Store appropriately labeled and sealed containers of waste in your laboratory until the scheduled waste pickup. By law, you must keep the waste containers “at or near” the area where the waste is generated. You may not store wastes in a room different than the area of generation.
Separate incompatible wastes by storing those materials in separate areas or by using secondary containment to isolate containers. Secondary containment is required for chemicals and wastes stored near sinks or drains (including cup sinks). Secondary containment bins are available free from EHS.
Waste is collected directly from laboratories and other generation points. Collection takes place Thursdays, excluding University holidays and closings. Individuals needing to have waste removed can request pickups using the Waste Removal Request Form on the EHS website.
Requests placed before 5 p.m. on Wednesday will be included in that week’s collection. Requests placed after that time will be removed the following week.
Waste Disposal Costs
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) coordinates and pays for routine chemical waste disposal. Departments or laboratories assume the labor costs for specialized services, such as remediation of contaminated equipment and labs, large-scale chemical cleanouts, or field characterization of unknown or mismanaged chemicals.
For More Information
Contact EHS at 609-258-5294 for more information on specific wastes and additional questions.