Hazardous Waste Guide

Packaging the Waste

Package the waste in a leak-proof container with a screw-top lid or other secure closure. Snap caps, such as those found on milk bottles, mix-sized caps, parafilm, or other loose-fitting lids are NOT acceptable. Federal regulations require all waste containers to be properly closed at all times except when adding waste to the container. Solid debris and small liquid vials and containers can be packaged into sealed plastic “Zip-Lock™” bags. Please do not use red biomedical waste bags for hazardous waste unless it displays both biohazardous and chemically hazardous properties.

Do NOT overfill containers. Prevent leakage by leaving 3” or more of empty space at the top of the containers. Remember solvents normally generate a large vapor pressure within the containers, leaving 3”+ of headspace ensures the container does not fail. If a container leaks put it into another container, this is referred to as an over-packed container. Then place the over-packed container into secondary containment, just as you would do with a primary container. Clean all visible contamination from the outside of the container to prevent possible chemical exposure.

Labeling the Waste

Waste containers must be labeled as soon as any waste enters it. Labels need to be filled out with ALL of the contents, not just the main ones, or ones you feel are most important. The SAA Start Date is the first day you begin adding waste to the container or decide the hazardous chemical is no longer usable. Contents must be written with proper chemical names, not chemical formulas (e.g. Water, not H20).

Waste will NOT be picked up unless it is properly labeled. Non-regulated wastes should not be labeled as hazardous waste. To label, a non-regulated waste with a yellow hazardous waste label the word “hazardous” must be covered or crossed out. Any label can be used for non-regulated waste as long as the label states the word “waste” and the non-regulated constituents (e.g. Waste Dye or Waste Pump Oil). There are two sizes of Hazardous Waste labels available depending on the type of container the waste is in, EHS will provide labels upon request.


Waste containers need to be stored in secondary containment. Secondary containment needs to be able to contain 110% of the largest container in said containment. Waste types (Flammable, Acids, Bases, Oxidizer, Toxic) need to be segregated within secondary containment. Segregation should be sufficient to allow 2 containers of incompatible waste to fail in a way that will not allow them to mix and react.

Arranging for a Waste Pick-up

Once a container is full, use EHSA to enter a waste pickup request. Follow EHSA waste pickup request entry procedures. One of the most common errors is the container contents entered online do not match the waste contents labeled on the container. This will result in the waste NOT being picked up and the waste request will need to be re-entered correctly. The maximum allowable quantity of waste in a satellite accumulation area is 55 gallons. Fire code may further limit the allowable quantities, check with your PI. Be sure to not exceed the limits set for your lab.


EHS and Lab Safety Fact Sheet
Printable Version of Hazardous Waste Guide

Hazardous Waste Safety Contacts

Aaron Young
Research and Environmental Safety Specialist
(407) 823-2887