Hazardous Waste Disposal
Nearly everything we do leaves behind some kind of waste. Households create ordinary garbage. Industrial and manufacturing processes create both solid waste and hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates all this waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA's goals are to: protect us from the hazards of waste disposal; conserve energy and natural resources by recycling and recovery; reduce or eliminate waste; and clean up waste which may have spilled, leaked, or been improperly disposed of. Hazardous waste comes in many shapes and forms, from laboratory wastes to used antifreeze to spent fluorescent bulbs. RCRA tightly regulates all hazardous waste from cradle to grave. These regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations under 40 CFR Parts 260 - 299.
Chemical Waste Collection (top of page)
Within your work area, the following practices must be followed for proper management and collection of hazardous waste:
- To determine if your unwanted materials pose a significant risk requiring management as hazardous waste, you must contact Environmental Management.
- To determine if chemical deactivation or drain disposal is an option, you must contact Environmental Management.
- Label containers of hazardous chemical wastes with the identity of the chemical(s) AND the words "Hazardous Waste".
- Keep all containers of hazardous chemical wastes closed at all times when they are not in use.
- Store hazardous waste containers within the room in which they are generated in.
- Recommended practices that should be followed:
- Always maintain a neat and orderly workplace.
- Use secondary containment bins or trays to store your chemical waste containers in.
- Store your waste containers in a designated place.
Chemical Waste (top of page)
The following federal regulations apply to hazardous waste generated in laboratories. Any violation of these regulations may result in significant fines and loss of federal grants.
- No more than 55 gallons of waste may be stored in a laboratory. For acutely hazardous waste, this limit is reduced to one quart. Please contact Environmental Management at (801) 422-4468 if you have questions about whether your waste is acutely hazardous waste or not.
- Full containers must be marked with the date on which it was filled. Contact Environmental Management to schedule the pick up of full containers.
- The laboratory must be "under the control of the operator". This simply means that when nobody is in the lab the door must be locked.
- Waste containers must be in good condition and compatible with the type of waste being stored in them. Leaking containers are not acceptable.
- Containers must be closed at all times except when adding or removing waste. "Closed" means that no waste can evaporate out of the container and that no waste would spill if the container were to tip over.
- The container must be labeled with a description of its contents. This description must be in English and must include the chemical name. Chemical structures and/or formulas are not appropriate substitutes for their names. All components of the waste must be listed.
- Incompatible wastes must be kept segregated.
- Training is required for anybody generating and handling hazardous waste. If you have not been trained on hazardous waste regulations, contact Environmental Management immediately. Environmental Management will provide training during a laboratory staff meeting or at any time that is convenient for you.
- Please fill out the "Hazardous Waste Pickup" form (http://risk.byu.edu/environmental/containerlog.php) when the container is about to become full. Fill all waste containers to NO MORE than 90% capacity. Overfilled containers will not be picked up. Please contact Environmental Management (801) 422-4468 if there are any questions.
- Do not put solid waste into liquid waste containers. For example, paper towels should be stored in a plastic bag or in a solid waste container; they should not be placed into a container for liquids.
- Spill cleanups should be managed as hazardous waste. Place all of the contaminated items (paper towels, gloves, etc.) into a zip-lock bag. Label the bag with the material that was cleaned up and mark it with the date.
- Do not use red biohazard bags for chemical waste. They are to be used for biohazardous material only. If you are not sure whether your waste is biohazardous please contact Environmental Management (801) 422-4468.
- Do not generate a mixed waste. See section on mixed wastes below.
Biological Waste (top of page)
General biohazardous waste in the lab is defined as waste contaminated or potentially contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, sharps, and animal remains.
Liquids with Biological Contamination
- Environmental Management will not dispose of liquid biohazardous waste. This waste may be autoclaved or disinfected with bleach and flushed down the drain. It is also recommended to disinfect the sink with additional bleach after disposing of biohazardous waste.
- Urine and blood are not to be put into biological waste containers. If these fluids do not contain infectious agents, they may be discarded into the sanitary sewer. Sanitary sewer lines should be disinfected once per day or following disposal with a 1/10 dilution of household bleach. Fluids known to have infectious agents should be disinfected with an appropriate chemical disinfectant or autoclaved before disposal. The autoclaved liquid may then be discarded into the sanitary sewer.
- Preserving solutions may not be flushed down the drain. The specimens must be removed from the solution and are disposed of as solid biological waste. The solution may then go to Environmental Management for hazardous waste disposal. See section on chemical waste.
- Infectious waste may be autoclaved and discarded to the regular trash. A log of each autoclaved load must be maintained. A log should include information on the type of waste, operators name, temperature or pressure of the load, the date, and the duration of the cycle. Additionally, autoclaves must be checked once per week or once per load with a spore suspension or spore strip. After autoclaving, the waste should be placed in an opaque plastic bag or box and prominently marked as autoclaved waste. If the biohazard bag is still visible, the material is not properly packaged. E230 BNSN has an area designated for infectious waste.
Solids with Biological Contamination
- Biohazardous waste must be packaged in either a red biohazard bag or a bag which is labeled as biohazardous and displays the international biohazard symbol.
- In order to minimize exposure to biohazards, all bags must be closed and tied off before pickup.
- Keep all sharp materials separate. We will not accept biohazard bags that contain glass, needles, or blades.
- There may not be any liquids in the solid waste.
- Low-risk biohazard agents may be autoclaved and disposed of as regular trash. Before discarding make sure that the red biohazard bag is not visible. Place the waste in either an opaque plastic bag or in a cardboard box before discarding to the dumpster. The landfill employees really do not like to see red biohazard bags!
- If you do not have access to an autoclave, Environmental Management will accept your low-risk biohazard waste for disposal.
- High-risk biohazard agents must be both autoclaved and received by Environmental Management.
- Animal remains or specimens that are not preserved must be frozen. Environmental Management will only pick up frozen waste.
- "Sharps" include all needles and blades and must always be managed as biohazardous, even if they were only used with chemicals. They must be placed in an appropriate sharps container. Do not over-fill the container; it must be closed before we will pick it up. Broken glass may be managed as "sharps", but technically it does not have to be. See the section on glass below.
- Do not generate any mixed waste. See section on mixed waste below.
Glass (top of page)
Some empty bottles, such as those that contained acutely hazardous materials must be managed as hazardous waste (contact Environmental Management with questions). However, most glass waste may be disposed of as regular trash. An empty container, defined as having less than 3% of the original volume, can be discarded into the normal trash. Do not ever put glass (especially broken glass) into the regular waste containers. This has caused accidents where custodians have cut themselves while removing waste. Attach a label to the box or bucket which informs the custodians to place the container directly into the dumpster.
Paper and Plastic (top of page)
Most paper and plastic waste generated in the laboratory may be disposed of in the regular waste containers. In some cases, such as spill cleanups or contamination with very hazardous materials, it may become necessary to dispose of paper and plastic as hazardous waste. In such cases, do not place these materials into containers of liquid hazardous waste. They may be collected in containers designated for solids debris only.
Mixed Waste (top of page)
For our purposes, mixed waste is considered any waste that is:
- Hazardous and Radioactive
- Hazardous and Biohazardous
- Radioactive and Biohazardous
Other (top of page)
Environmental Management also collects and recycles the following miscellaneous wastes:
- Fluorescent lights
- Oil-bearing devices (such as transformers)
- Circuit boards
- Aerosol cans (empty or full)