Hazardous Waste Management Overview

Hazardous waste may be generated from laboratory operations, facilities operations and maintenance, construction and renovation activities, photo processing, and a variety of other activities at the Institute.  What makes a waste hazardous?  The simplest explanation would be to say it is anything that would hurt people, the environment, and wildlife if just thrown away in the normal trash or discharged into our water or air.  


The more complicated explanation is that some waste chemicals are listed by the EPA as dangerous and therefore must be collected and disposed of as hazardous, and some waste must be disposed of if it meets a certain characteristic.  The four characteristics are: toxic, flammable, reactive, and corrosive. 


Common hazardous wastes generated at the Institute include:

  • Used solvents;
  • Waste oils and lubricants generated by a variety of operations including motor vehicles, elevators, plant maintenance, etc;
  • Unused chemicals and other hazardous substances, such as strong acids & bases, paints, aerosol cans, etc. that are no longer needed, do not meet specifications, are contaminated, have exceeded their storage life, or are otherwise unusable;
  • Used ethylene glycol and other coolants;
  • PCBs, batteries, lead paint and other miscellaneous materials including, contaminated rags and wipes, broken mercury-containing lamps (i.e. fluorescent lamps) and thermometers.

The Environmental Management Program (EMP) is responsible for assisting Institute personnel with hazardous waste management procedures including disposal. EMP is available to assist with waste identification and storage issues

If you are curious about reducing your use of toxics, please call the EHS Office and ask to speak with the EMP group about solvent recycling or toxics substitution.  In the meantime you can explore our information about the solvent recyclers currently in use on campus. 

Additionally there are green chemistry tools at your disposal to help you substitute to less toxic chemicals.

  1. If you are looking for construction related information please go here
  2. If you would like some dark room photo processing information please go here
  3. If you are buying a non-returnable compressed gas cylinder please go here