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Chemical Waste Container Management

It is the responsibility of laboratory custodians to ensure that containers of hazardous waste stored in the laboratories under their control are managed properly. In order to ensure proper management of these containers follow the following guidelines:

  1. All hazardous waste designated for disposal must be placed in appropriate glass, metal or chemically inert, non-reactive, non-flexible plastic containers with tightly fitting screw caps. Corrosives should not be placed in metal containers. Leaking, visibly damaged or rusted containers are not acceptable. Used containers should be clean. Do not refill used reagent containers with potentially incompatible waste chemicals. Open containers or containers with cut glass, aluminum foil, "Parafilm", rubber or cork stoppers are unacceptable. Do not overfill waste containers.
  2. All containers labeled as containing hazardous waste must be stored in a secondary containment device (i.e. tub or basin) to prevent environmental contamination in the event of a spill or leaking container. Each basin must be leakproof and constructed of a chemically inert material. It must be capable of containing either the total volume of the largest waste container in the basin or 10% of the total waste volume in the basin, whichever is greater.
  3. The exterior of each waste container must be clean and free from chemical contamination so that labels will adhere to the container. All markings not pertaining to the actual waste contents must be completely removed or obliterated.
  4. Waste containers must be kept closed at all times except when in the process of adding waste to the container. Waste containers must not be filled to the top. Two inches of space must be left at the top of every container larger than a quart.
  5. Waste containers must be inspected weekly for leaks and/or deterioration. If a container is leaking or deteriorating, transfer its contents to a new suitable container.

Disposal of Empty Chemical Containers

This procedure is designed to render empty glass and plastic chemical containers suitable for ordinary refuse disposal.

Chemical containers that have been emptied (generally this means drained of their contents by normal means including pouring, pumping, aspirating, etc.) are not regulated as hazardous waste, however they should be triple rinsed with water or other suitable solvent and air-dried to ensure that it is free of liquid or other visible chemical residue. Additionally, all labels identifying the contents of the container should be removed or defaced. Containers meeting this criteria should either be placed into a Broken Glass container or the general refuse containers provided by Housekeeping. The generator must determine whether the washings must be collected and disposed of as hazardous waste. For volatile organic solvents (e.g. acetone, ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethyl ether, hexane, methanol, petroleum ether, toluene, xylene, etc.) not on the list of acutely hazardous wastes (P-list), the empty container can be air dried in a ventilated area (e.g. chemical fume hood) without triple rinsing.

If residues remain after, the container should be disposed of as chemically contaminated solid waste and consigned to EHS for disposal.