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. Properly Label 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 Clean Glassware

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 acutely hazardous chemicals). 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.    

Re-Using A Chemical Container

If you rinse and re-use a chemical container to collect waste chemicals, check that the chemical(s) that you are adding to that container is compatible (will not react) with the original chemicals stored in that container.  For example, an empty bottle of Hydrochloric Acid would best be re-used for a waste inorganic acid solution.

If you re-use a chemical container to collect chemical waste, be sure to:

  • deface the manufacturer's label with a black marker. 
  • make sure the chemicals you are putting into the container are compatible with the chemicals that came out of the container initially. Use the appropriate label. 

Double labeling causes confusion! Consult with Safety staff  if you need assistance with chemical labeling.



Never use an empty Acute Chemical Container for a waste container


Empty acutely toxic chemical containers, such as those that held sodium azide, osmium tetroxide, cyanide, etc. are  considered a hazardous waste. Fill out a waste tag for any empty acute chemical container and enter the lab waste tag online.  We will be glad to dispose of the container properly.

UVM Chemsource sells 1-gallon Waste Accumulation containers

1-gallon amber glass waste containers and 5-gal/20 liter poly containers for liquids or solids are available through UVM's ChemSource program.  Labs only need purchase the initial 5-gal container for waste; 5-gallon waste containers are picked up and swapped out at no additional charge.

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


Properly Label Chemical 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.


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.


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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