Chemical Waste Disposal
The purpose of this information sheet is to provide guidance to workers on the safe disposal of hazardous chemical waste in accordance with the requirements of:
- Environmental Protection Act (1970)
- Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.2- Safety in Laboratories Part 2:Chemical aspects (2006)
- Using Chemicals Procedure.
Heads of academic/administrative units and supervisory staff have a particular responsibility for ensuring that all persons who generate chemical waste dispose of it appropriately. This includes the development of waste disposal procedures, communicating local requirements to staff and students and ensuring that appropriate training is provided. The local safety officer can also provide specific advice on safe disposal of chemical waste.
1. Types of chemical waste
Chemical waste is treated according to its physical and chemical properties therefore segregation of waste products is crucial. The mixing of incompatible materials in waste streams can result in unwanted reactions, such as the production of toxic gases or explosions and risk the lives of everyone in the area.
In some instances, it may not be possible to dispose of the waste through waste contractors, as they may not have the relevant licence or treatment facilities. In this instance, the waste generator must investigate alternative methods of disposal and if it is not possible to dispose of appropriately, the activity should not be performed.
It is the responsibility of the person performing the activity to include chemical waste disposal in risk assessments and produce procedures for disposal prior to conducting the experimental work.
2. Waste disposal methods
The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) must be consulted for appropriate disposal methods when conducting the risk assessment for any work that involves the use of chemicals.
2.1 Licensed contractor
The preferred method of chemical waste disposal is to use an EPA licensed waste contractor via the Monash Stores. This ensures that waste is disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible way. Waste must be properly labelled, stored in a suitable container, and housed appropriately until collection. Arrangements must be in place for waste to be collected regularly by the licensed waste contractor for appropriate off-site treatment.
2.2 Treating waste at source/waste to sewer
In some instances chemical waste may be treated in-house, but only if the material(s) convert to a non-hazardous product. Under no circumstances should hazardous waste be allowed to enter drains or be disposed of down the sink. Dilution is not an acceptable alternative to appropriate disposal.
All chemical waste containers must be labelled clearly labelled to accurately identify their contents. These labels are available at your chemical store or are linked from this document and can be printed on Avery templates. The following details must be included on the waste label prior to the chemical waste being taken to your local Stores:
- name of person responsible for the waste and contact details:
- phone number
- description of waste details (including estimates of concentration where possible)
- date of generation
4. Waste classification
Chemical waste streams at Monash align with the broad categories under the Dangerous Goods (DG) classification. These specific waste streams are set up to account for any incompatibilities between some of the DG classes. E.g. acids and alkaline materials. Some frequently generated waste streams are listed below. However, these only cover the most common incompatibilities.
Chemical waste can be disposed of by Cleanaway via your Monash Stores. For further advice on classifying, safe handling and collection, contact your safety officer, supervisor or Cleanaway directly on 1300 66 77 87.
Includes solvents such as acetone, ethanol and acetonitrile, mixtures and by-products from synthetic reactions. Sometimes, volatile solvents are mistakenly thought to be flammable. Refer to the SDS for verification.
Generally, these have chloro-, bromo- or fluoro- atoms attached. Any contaminants must be identified on the label.
These are solid material that undergo rapid combustion or are self-reactive. Aluminium powder and other metallic powders are flammable solids.
These are materials will start to combust when they come in contact with air. White phosphorous is spontaneously combustible, as are some forms of activated carbon.
Dangerous When Wet
These are materials that combust or give off toxic vapours when they come into contact with air. Sodium is an example of a materials that is dangerous when wet.
Includes nitrates such as ammonium nitrate and chlorates such as calcium hypochlorite.
Includes acrylamide, ethidium bromide, phenol/chloroform, cadmium and mercury batteries, mercaptoethanol waste, solid paraformaldehyde and other toxic wastes.
Glassware that has been contaminated with chemicals and needs to be disposed of.
This waste is generated generally by histology processes.
Solid Waste (Contaminated)
This is lab consumables with chemical contamination. It includes gloves, paper towel, tubes et cetera.
Due to the potential to generate highly toxic Hydrogen Cyanide, waste containing cyanide should have its own waste steam.
Picric Acid <30% water
Picric acid is safe under most circumstance, but if the water is allowed to evaporate it becomes an explosive material. As a result it has a separate waste stream.
Includes bio-medical wastes, sharps, quarantine wastes and waste from work with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Biohazardous waste is disposed of in accordance with Using Biologicals and Animals Procedure.
Radioactive waste is disposed of in accordance with Disposal of Radioactive Waste Procedure.
Includes acids, which can be sufficiently volatile to give off vapour irritating to the eyes and nose. Some acids are incompatible with other acids and should not be mixed.
This acid is extremely toxic and requires its own waste stream.
This acid is a strong oxidiser and should not be mixed with other chemical waste where possible.
Includes alkalis, which can be sufficiently volatile to give off vapour irritating to the eyes and nose.
Includes chemical waste that falls under the miscellaneous dangerous goods classification, and other chemical waste.
These are liquids that will burn, but are not volatile to be classified as flammable. Some examples are diesel and some motor oils.
Cytotoxic waste is material or drugs which are harmful to living cells or carcinogenic, mutagenic and/or teratogenic. Cytotoxic waste includes cytotoxic waste chemicals and materials associated with their use such as needles, syringes, intravenous appliances, ampoules, vials, gloves and swabs.
All Cytotoxic waste is to be identified by appropriate mauve coloured bags or containers with the telophase symbol. EPA licensed waste disposal contactors and transporters must be used and each waste load is to be accompanied by an on-line “wastecert” transport certificate.
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All labels can be printed out on Avery Labels.
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5. Further information
For further information, contact your local OH&S consultant/adviser or Occupational Health and Safety:
- Telephone: 990 51016
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org