Dispose of Old, Expired or Waste Chemicals

Please review the requirements below for managing chemical wastes at UVM. If you have any additional questions, e-mail us at safety@uvm.edu

  1. Sink Disposal of any chemical solutions must be pre-approved. Please submit an online Sink Disposal Request Form.


Dispose of as hazardous waste (liquid solutions or chemically-contaminated debris)  as follows:

  1. Select A Proper Waste Container
  2. Labeling Waste
  3. Storing Waste
  4. Arranging for Waste Pickup
  5. Specific Wastes (Sharps, Uncontaminated Lab Waste & Glass
  6. Pump Oil, Contaminated Rags
  7. Biowaste & Radioactive Waste (see left menu links)
  8. Frequently Asked Questions


  Waste Disposal Guide (pdf)


Sink Disposal

UVM is committed to managing its hazardous chemicals in a way that prevents their release to the environment. In accordance with this policy, sink disposal of hazardous laboratory chemicals is prohibited.

Any liquids or solutions that go down a UVM drain goes to the Burlington Public Works wastewater treatment facility. This is treated and eventually discharges into Lake Champlain. Laboratory personnel are prohibited from disposing of the following materials down any UVM drain:

  • Flammable Liquids (flash point < 141 deg F), reactive or explosive materials;
  • Liquids having a pH equal to or less than 5.0, or greater than or equal to 9.5 or other corrosive property capable of causing damage to wastewater facilities;
  • Highly viscous materials (e.g. oils) capable of causing an obstruction in the wastewater system;
  • Radioactive materials;
  • Materials that have or create a strong odor (e.g: hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide, ammonia, trichloroethylene, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, chlorine, bromine or pyridine);
  • Wastewater capable of significantly raising the temperature of the system;
  • Grease or oils according to the following
    • petroleum > 15 mg/L,
    • animal or vegetable > 100 mg/L,
    • non-emulsified or "floatable" oils or grease; or
  • Pharmaceuticals or endocrine disruptors.

Solvents used to rinse clean glassware (acetone, ethanol, Nochromix, etc) must be collected as hazardous waste and disposed of through UVM's waste disposal procedure.

A list of non-hazardous materials that are pre-approved for drain disposal can be found on this list: Materials Allowed for Disposal as Non-Hazardous in the Sink or Trash Disposal

If the chemical you are trying to dispose of that is not on the non-hazardous materials list and you wish to dispose of it down a drain, you must submit an online Sink Disposal Request form. Be sure to indicate 100% of the constituents, even if the solvent is water.

It is acceptable to discharge non-regulated aqueous salt and sugar solutions down the drain, but please err on the side of caution. If you have specific questions about whether a chemical is suitable for sink disposal, email us at  safety@uvm.edu before you pour it down the drain.



Select A Proper Waste Container

It's important to choose an appropriate waste container. For example, never collect corrosive material in a metal container. Food grade containers, such as plastic milk containers or water bottle plastics should not be used to collect chemical wastes;  this type of plastic cannot often stand up to its chemical contents and can leak or degrade quickly.

Avoid using containers that have held acutely toxic or highly reactive chemicals; these containers, even when empty, should be tagged as a hazardous waste (see list of generic names of acutely hazardous wastes). The following list might help you choose a proper waste container: 

  • Container size should match the amount or volume of waste being collected. (If it takes 1 year to fill a 5 gal waste container, the container size it too big. Waste must be picked up by Safety staff every 6 months or less.
  • Container should be leak proof.
  • Never use empty household or food-related product containers. 
  • Never use open beakers to collect waste.
  • Waste containers must have a screw-top cap that fits.
  • Caps must be securely closed when not in use.  
  • When reusing stock chemical containers as waste collection containers, make sure that the original chemical contents is compatible with the waste being collected.


1-gallon amber glass waste containers and 5-gal/20 liters poly containers for liquids or solids are available through UVM's ChemSource program.  Labs pay an initial deposit on the 5-gal containers and are "swapped" out at no charge.

Labs that need to collect waste in volumes larger than 20-litres must contact safety@uvm.edu before doing so. 


Labeling Waste

The use of UVM's waste accumulation label on lab waste chemicals IS REQUIRED BY LAW.  Laboratory waste labels help to ensure that lab staff, Safety staff and emergency responders are aware of the hazards.  Laboratory waste labeling at UVM includes two procedures: 

  1. Complete a yellow Laboratory Waste Accumulation Container label and place it on the waste container while collecting waste in any container over time;  and
  2. Complete a 3-part Laboratory Waste Tag, when a waste container is full or if the accumulation date is greater than 6-months. The Lab Waste Tag is a way of notifying Safety staff that the waste is ready for pickup and removal from the lab.


Waste accumulation labels

Waste accumulation labels should be filled out (completely) when any waste is present in the container.  This means, as soon as one drop of waste enters a waste container, the accumulation label must be filled out and placed on the container. Always use:

  • full English names of all contents,
  • the date the waste began being collected
  • circle the hazard of the contents


Laboratory Waste Tag

When a waste container is full, or the accumulation date is about to exceed 6-months, complete all sections of the 3-part tag. Be sure to include all chemical names with estimated percentages.

Waste tags are uniquely numbered. DO NOT MAKE UP A TAG NUMBER.  After filling out a waste manually, the tag must be entered the online. Then attach the tag to the waste and place the containers into storage with compatible chemicals. 

If a container is small, attach the tag by the string with tape, or place the container in a larger, properly labeled, secondary container. 

Laboratory Waste tags attached to waste containers must be dated within the last 30 days. Our permits mandate that all waste must be removed within 30 days of being identified as waste.

Labels and Tags are available through Environmental Health and Safety. Contact us at safety@uvm.edu


Storing Waste 

Key Requirements:

  • Waste containers must be securely closed when not in use. 
  • All liquid laboratory wastes must be in secondary containment in case the primary container fails.
  • Never leave a funnel in a waste container unless the funnel itself is designed to be a secure lid.
  • Avoid or minimize the storage of waste materials inside a fume hood to preserve adequate space for working safely and allow for proper airflow within the hood.   
  • Flammable waste should be stored within a flammable safety cabinet and must count towards the fire code storage limits for the lab.
  • To prevent breakage and spills, do not store waste chemical containers on the floor.  In some cases, larger, non-glass containers of waste may be stored on the floor in secondary containment. Never block aisles and/or egress and do not create a tripping hazard. 


Chemical waste storage cabinets

If you have a designated "Chemical Waste Storage" cabinet, be sure to use smaller secondary containment bins to separate chemicals according to their hazard(s). For example,  Flammables should be separated from Corrosives, Organic Acids should be separated from Inorganic Acids.  Even a chemical that is BOTH flammable and corrosive (such as an amine) should be stored in its own secondary containment in the proper cabinet.

Waste storage time limit

EPA regulations require that laboratory waste be stored for no more than 6 months. Once the start date on the accumulation label reaches 6 months, please tag the waste for hazardous waste pick-up and disposal.

Liquid and solid waste must be collected in separate containers.

For example, if you have both phenol waste and phenol contaminated tips, they must be collected in separate containers.

Preventing leaks

Leave empty space at the top of waste containers - do not overfill.

Containers will be inspected at least monthly, per the self inspection checklist, to assure that no degradation of the container or its contents has occurred.

A leaking container must be either packed in a secondary container, or its contents transferred to another container.


Arranging for Disposal

Safety staff pick up laboratory waste 2x per week in main campus buildings, and 1x per month in off-campus locations (Colchester Research Facility, Rubenstein Labs, Proctor Maple Research Facility, etc).

Laboratory personnel must tag waste containers for disposal when

  1. they are full,
  2. ready for disposal,
  3. when they are greater than six months from the orignal accumulation start date, or
  4. prior to starting another container of the same waste.

These tags are uniquely numbered to allow us to track the waste as it moves through the UVM system, as required by EPA regulation. Please enter the information from the tag into our online waste tag entry for prompt ESF pick up. Then attach the tag to the waste and place the containers into storage with compatible chemicals. 

If a container is small, attach the tag by the string with tape, or place the container in a larger, properly labeled, secondary container. 

Laboratory Waste tags attached to waste containers must be dated within the last 30 days. Our permits mandate that all waste must be removed within 30 days of being identified as waste.

Labels and Tags are available through Safety staff by emailing us at safety@uvm.edu


Specific Wastes 


Sharps contaminated with hazardous chemicals are collected in a sharps box labeled with an ES Waste Accumulation Container label. List all the chemicals which have been in contact with the sharps, circle the hazards and write the date that accumulation started.

Toxic or highly reactive chemicals 

Containers of acutely toxic or highly reactive chemicals must be securely closed and tagged for hazardous waste disposal.

Empty containers that held solid or liquid chemicals that are air or water reactives, stench chemicals, or highly hazardous materials such as carcinogens, teratogens, mutagens, or acutely toxic materials must be securely closed and tagged for pickup through the hazardous waste disposal system.

To identify these chemicals, see the list attached to the Chemical Use Planning form at http://www.uvm.edu/safety/sites/uvm.edu.safety/files/cupf.pdf.

Controlling Evaporation of Chemicals

Evaporation of hazardous materials in fume hoods for the purpose of disposal is prohibited.

Fume hoods are used to control exposure to vapors during experimental processes and may increase the evaporation rate of some of the chemicals being used. To minimize the potential for air pollution as a result of fume hood use:

  • Close caps tightly when not in use, 
  • Never store chemicals, including wastes, in the fume hood. Clutter and extra materials stored on the fume hood work surface prevents proper movement of air flow.



Disposing of hazardous laboratory wastes through ordinary trash is prohibited. Keeping hazardous laboratory wastes and ordinary trash separate helps minimize the amount of hazardous waste generated at UVM, and promotes the proper disposal of all waste streams generated in the laboratory.

Laboratory trash is handled primarily by the Custodial Services staff. If a custodian suspects that laboratory chemical waste is being improperly disposed of by a laboratory, they will report the situation to the Environmental Health and Safety.

The chemical wastes most likely to be confused with trash are the 5 gallon buckets of solid, toxic waste that are allowed to be stored on the floor. Make sure these buckets are clearly labeled with the yellow Laboratory Waste Accumulation stickers and these stickers are visible at all times. Use clear bags as a liner inside this clearly labeled bucket. Don’t remove the bag and set it aside, unlabeled, for any reason and never put the lid underneath the bucket. 

Broken Glass Boxes in Labs

Laboratory glassware cannot currently be recycled. Uncontaminated broken glass should be disposed of in a cardboard box labeled "Broken glass" or in a "Glass Box" purchased from a Vendor. UVM Custodians will remove full glass boxes from a lab if they are:

  • small (less than 20 inches tall),
  • weigh 30-40 lbs max
  • all flaps taped closed,
  • labelled as broken glass/ trash and placed in the hallway.  
Lab personnel are responsible for handling and disposing of large or heavy boxes of broken glass. If you have a large glass box, the lab is responsible for getting it to the compactor or dumpster for your specific lab building.
Please use a cart (don't carry the box) to transport glass boxes.
NEW! Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box
These boxes are new to UVM labs. With the cost of biohazardous waste escalating, the Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box is being made available to UVM labs to help remove NON-CONTAMINATED laboratory waste from the biohazardous waste collection containers.
Risk Management & Safety currently supplies:
  • Non-Hazardous Laboratory Waste & Glass boxes,
  • appropriate labels for all 4 sides of the box, and
  • black plastic box liners.
Boxes and supplies are being located in lab buildings around campus so labs can utilize this new collection container as needed. 
Non contaminated broken glass and non-contaminated "pointy things" (items that can puncture) should be placed in the Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box. We created a new Waste Disposal Chart  poster that defines what can go into these boxes. If you need one, contact safety@uvm.edu.  
Be careful not to overfill the Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box. Custodial services will not remove these containers from labs. The Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box must be removed from the lab by lab personnel and placed inside a dumpster compactor nearby. Never abandon a Uncontaminated Laboratory Waste & Broken Glass Box on a loading dock.
Thank you for your help in reducing the biohazardous waste stream at UVM!

Locations to Pick-up Boxes:

  • Colchester Research Facility:  1st floor, BioWaste Room
  • Cook:  3rd floor Study Area, to the left of the entrance
  • Dewey:  4th floor, Room 421
  • Given:  1st floor Loading Dock, in black metal cabinet
  • HSRF:  2nd floor Loading Dock, in tan metal cabinet
  • Marsh Life Science:  Basement, outside the Biology Stockroom
  • Stafford:  2nd floor Mail Room
  • Terrill:  1st floor, Biosecurity Room

**If you do not work in one of the buildings listed above or cannot access these locations, please email safety@uvm.edu to request delivery of uncontaminated waste boxes to your lab.

Contaminated Glass:  Handling, Packaging & Disposal

Do NOT discard glassware in a broken glass box if it contains hazardous chemicals, infectious or radioactive contaminants. Glassware must be completely empty prior to disposal in a glass box.

 Boxes must be lined with polybag-lined (2 mil thick). Do NOT use an red biohazard waste bag to line a glassware box.

SIZE MATTERS: Custodians will dispose of the boxes if they are small (less than 20 inches tall) and not excessively heavy.  Lab personnel are responsible for delivering large or heavy boxes of broken glass directly to the dumpster, please use a cart.

If glass is contaminated:

  • If broken glassware is grossly contaminated with a hazardous material, place the glass in a ziplock bag and then a leak-proof container that will not be punctured or torn by the jagged glass. Label the container with the appropriate hazard warning(s) and fill out a laboratory waste tag to dispose.  Enter the tag online at http://esf.uvm.edu/tags
  • If broken glassware is contaminated with biologically hazardous material, place the sealed cardboard box in a red biowaste bag and dispose of the material through the UVM biowaste disposal system. http://esf.uvm.edu/faq/index.php/Biowaste



Pump Oil, Contaminated Rags

Used oil and oil-contaminated debris is regulated in Vermont. This means used oil must be collected, labeled and disposed of as a hazardous waste. Used oil may include:

  • vehicle crankcase oils, transmission fluids and power steering fluids;
  • hydraulic, compressor and straight cutting oils;
  • tramp oil and oil drained from evaporators.

Rags contaminated or soaked with used oils (motor oil, linseed oil) or solvents (thinners, paints) must be collected separately. The best container for collecting this type of material is a metal can with a self-closing lid.  

Rags containing solvents or thinners must be collected this way as well.  

A self-closing lid on the waste can prevent these types of rags from spontaneous combustion or a spark.

For more information on how to dispose of these types of special wastes, go here.



Biowaste & Radioactive Waste

For information about biological waste please follow this link to the biowaste management page.

For information pertaining to radioactive waste management follow this link to the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) website.


Frequently Asked Questions

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