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How Do I Properly Manage My Waste?

A common question ESSR receives is where can I put my waste? Can it be poured down the drain or placed in the trash can? This page is designed to give guidance on the safe disposal of unused, off-spec, or outdated chemicals currently residing in labs. Please note that only materials on the list that have not been mixed with, or come into contact with hazardous waste can be managed in the trash or down the drain without prior approval.


Material That Can Go In the Trash

Material Can it go in the trash? What to do with it
Radioactive material No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Biological hazard No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Flammable No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Reactive No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Corrosive No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Listed hazardous waste No Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up

Sewer Disposal: What Can Go Down the Drain?*

Material Can it Go down the Drain? What to do with it
Biohazardous Waste Solids: NO

Liquids: NO, unless it has been deactivated.
Liquid biohazardous waste can be decontaminated and made suitable for drain disposal in 2 ways:
  • Deactivate with bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts liquid waste) for 30 minutes before pouring it down the drain.
  • Occasionally, liquid waste is autoclaved. Do not add bleach in this case. 

Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up

Controlled Substances NO Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Radioactive Wastes NO Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Hazardous chemical waste NO Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Mercury NO in concentrations greater than 0.03 mg/L Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Solids, sludges, or viscous substances NO These items can obstruct the flow of sewage.
Powders and salts NO These items can obstruct the flow of sewage.
  • Do not dissolve them with water.
Grease and Oil NO-Any wastes containing petroleum oil, non-biodegradable cutting oil, or products of mineral oil origin in amounts that could cause Interference or Pass-Through Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Fire or Explosion Hazard NO- At no time shall an Industrial User discharge any substance which results in a reading of greater than 5-percent of the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for that substance using a methane calibrated combustible meter, at the point of discharge to a fixture or at any point in the system.
Prohibited materials include but shall not be limited to; gasoline, kerosene, naphtha, ethers, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, peroxides, chlorates, perchlorates, bromates, carbides, hydrides and sulfides and any other substances determined to be a fire and/or explosion hazard.
Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up
Corrosive waste with a pH between 2.0 and 6.0 NO, unless it has been adjusted You have 2 disposal options:
  • Adjust the pH to greater than 6.0 and less than 10 and then dispose of it down the drain.
  • Store and properly dispose of nonadjusted waste in the Regulated Waste System
Corrosive waste with a pH of 2.0 or lower or pH of 12.5 or higher NO This kind of waste is always considered hazardous chemical waste.
Hot, nonhazardous liquids (140°F or more) NO Cool the liquid to below 125°F before pouring it down the drain. 
Wash and rinse water NO, unless it has not been contaminated by hazardous materials or highly caustic, acidic, or toxic cleaning solutions Please visit the Regulated Waste System to schedule a pick-up

 


In addition to the general categories listed above, the regulations for the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) that treat our wastewater has a list of specific chemicals and concentrations that can be safely discarded down the drain. Please refer to the reference table below:

Table 804.1.9

Pollutant Limit3
Inorganics (total) Concentration (mg/l)
Arsenic 0.28
Cadmium 0.10
Chromium 7.0
Copper 2.0
Cyanide 0.40
Lead 0.35
Molybdenum 0.35
Nickel 3.4
Selenium 0.40
Silver 0.50
Zinc 4.2
Organics
Tetrachloroethylene (Tetrachloroethene) 0.0945
Trichloroethylene (Trichloroethene) 0.026
Total PCBs4 <0.001
Conventionals Concentration (mg/l) (except as indicated)
Ammonia 190
Dissolved Solids 5,000
Suspended Solids 3,000
Total Solids 8,000
BOD (5-day, 20°C) 3,000
Total Phosphorous 8
Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons 250
Fats, Oil and Grease5 200
pH6 6.0 - 10.0 units
Temperature 140°F

 

1. Limits expressed in this table represent absolute maximum limitations and shall not be exceeded at any time. This list shall not be construed as a complete list of restricted materials. Restrictions may also be placed on other materials when the concentration of these materials is sufficient to adversely affect any portion of the collection or treatment system.

2. To determine compliance with numerical permit limitations, unless otherwise specified in the permit, the analytical methods shall include: a) any approved method with a Method Detection Level (MDL) adequate to detect concentrations of at least one-tenth the level of the permit limitation, or b) if there is no approved method sensitive to at least one-tenth of the permit limitation, then the most sensitive method approved in 40 CFR Part 136 or other method approved by EPA for wastewater is required.

3. Maximum for any sample obtained during a calendar day.

4.Total PCBs shall consist of the summation of all concentrations for Arochlor 1016, 1221, 1232, 1242, 1248, 1254, and 1260 that are above the reporting detection limit (RDL) or reporting limit (RL) of 0.001 mg/L. EPA analytical method 608 with a minimum RDL or RL of 0.0001 mg/L shall be used for all PCB analysis.

5. Fats, wax, grease, or oils of animal or vegetable origin, whether emulsified or not. Any discharge capable of causing an obstruction and/or interference with the plumbing system, conveyance system, or the POTW processes shall be prohibited regardless of limit.

6. In the event an Industrial User monitors their pH continuously, a pH violation shall be construed as any excursion less than 6 or greater than 10 for more than 15 minutes at any one time, or more than 30 minutes in aggregate, for any calendar day. In the event that an Industrial User monitors their pH by collecting grab samples, a pH violation shall exist if greater than 6.25% of the grabs taken that day are less than 6.0 or greater than 10.0. The pH shall not be less than 5 for any period of time.

 

 


If you have any questions or need a waste determination performed please refer to the EPA Hazardous Waste Codes page or email Jason Baer, Assistant Director of the Office of Environmental Affairs