Guidelines for Unwanted Material Disposal
These guidelines of disposal recommendations are designed to help you determine how materials should be disposed of to ensure the University's compliance with environmental regulations.
Under no circumstances are materials to be dropped off at Environment, Health & Safety (30 East Campus Mall) without prior arrangements with the Chemical Waste Management Staff.
Guidelines for some specific materials are listed below.
Animal bedding that may be contaminated with metabolized chemicals can be bagged and placed in the normal trash or sewered (Garb-el). Normally there is little risk of exposure or environmental impact regarding this type of disposal. If you have questions regarding whether this type of disposal is appropriate for a chemical you are using please call 279-0869 or email email@example.com.
Paints, thinners, oils, varnishes, oily rags and glazes containing metals can be picked up by EH&S, by filling out a Surplus Chemicals Form and submitting the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form.
- Alkaline Batteries – Alkaline batteries are not hazardous waste. There are currently no recyclers for these batteries in this area. Until a recycler is identified, they should be thrown in the trash.
- Lead Acid Batteries – Lead acid batteries (car type and gel cell) can be returned to the vendor from which it was purchased. If you are unable to return the battery to a vendor, it must be turned in with the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form. All caps on the battery must be present. If the battery is leaking, it must be secured in double plastic bags at least 4-mils thick. For small quantities of batteries, non-alkaline batteries can be packaged and sent though campus mail to: EH&S Battery Recycling, 30 East Campus Mall.
- Nickel Cadmium Batteries (NiCads) – NiCad batteries should be purchased from a vendor who will accept the old battery. If you are unable to return the battery to a vendor, it must be tagged with the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form. NiCads of D–cell size and smaller may be placed in a plastic bag and labeled as a unit. For small quantities of batteries, non-alkaline batteries can be packaged (terminals taped) and sent though campus mail to: EH&S Battery Recycling, 30 East Campus Mall.
- Other Battery Types – All other non-alkaline batteries types must be handled as used material and turned in to EH&S. For small quantities of batteries, non-alkaline batteries can be packaged (terminals taped) and sent though campus mail to: EH&S Battery Recycling, 30 East Campus Mall.
- Batteries Contained In Electronics - Batteries within a piece of electronic equipment such as laptop computers can be sent to SWAP.
Biological Safety Cabinets
For information on how to dispose of biological safety cabinets, please contact the Office of Biological Safety.
- Floor Cleaning Products – Floor cleaning products that have been mixed according to the manufacturer's recommendations can usually be poured down the drain. These must be poured down the sanitary sewer and must not be allowed to enter the storm sewer or otherwise be released into the outdoors. If you do not know where a drain goes (many floor drains in older buildings are connected to the storm sewer), do not pour anything into it. Unused products to be disposed of must be listed on The Surplus Chemicals Form; include the type of product and any listing of ingredients.
- Standard Cleaning Products – Standard cleaning products should be used completely whenever possible. Unused products may be turned into EH&S for use by other facilities on campus.
Empty chemical containers (with one exception, see P-list), including those that have residue or are considered "contaminated" are considered trash. Solvent bottles, glass lab ware, and pipet tips cannot be recycled and are not treated as hazardous waste.We do suggest you rinse them prior to their disposal.
Exception P-list materials - Original empty containers and their first rinse of P-list materials are considered hazardous waste and should be picked up by Chemical Waste Management. See the P-list.
Contact the Department of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) and submit the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form for container pick-up and removal.
Empty 30, 55-gallon drums must be marked as empty, have the hazard diamond defaced and stored with the bungs in place. They should be stored so that water does not collect on their tops. Drums in storage that are being used for trash should be stored on their sides to eliminate any confusion as to their identity. Contact the Department of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) and submit the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form for drum pick-up and removal.
Fertilizers, Herbicides, Insecticides and Pesticides
- These products should be used according to label directions. If mixing a concentrate, only mix the amount that is going to be used that day.
- Materials that are not going to be used (mixed) shall be can be picked up by Chemical Waste Management. Any leaky containers must be packed in double plastic bags.
- Empty packaging must be managed according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the instructions call for rinsing the empty containers, the rinsate can go into the sanitary sewer, however, you may want to consult Chemical Waste Management for guidance. Do not pour the rinsate on the ground or into storm sewers.
Fluorescent Light Tubes
Spent Fluorescent Tubes
These tubes are universal waste; they must be collected and handled in accordance with procedure listed below.
It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) to collect and dispose of universal waste according to all local, state and federal regulations.
Collection of Spent Fluorescent Tubes
- Spent fluorescent tubes (tubes/bulbs) must be collected in boxes marked with the label "Universal Waste" and the date.
- Each facility handles their own bulb collection and your building manager should be contacted for bulb pick-up.
- Small individual bulbs (i.e. microscope bulbs) may be turned in to EH&S during normal collection.
- The original container that the tubes/bulbs came in when purchased should be used if possible. Alternate containers must be made out of corrugated cardboard.
- In areas where spent tubes/bulbs are being collected/stored before being transferred to EH&S, there must be no evidence of spills (broken glass, powder etc.). Keeping these areas free of spills is the responsibility of the supervisor in charge of the area; call EH&S at 265-5000 if you have questions or need assistance meeting this requirement.
- All spills of glass, powder, or any other material related to tubes/bulbs must be immediately cleaned up.
- As soon as a box is full, it must be completely taped shut.
NOTE: Completely taped shut means the following:
All seams and holes in the collection box whether intentionally put there or as part of their original construction (this includes but is not limited to, hand hold end seams) must be taped over; there can be NO HOLES, NO GAPS, NO SEAMS and/or NO CRACKS left in the collection box where powder or broken glass could leak out.
- All gas cylinders must be stored in an approved storage area in an upright position and secured with a chain.
- Cylinders manufactured by Linde, AGA, Airgas, Praxair, Matheson, Gastech, and Badger Welding should be returned to their vendors through MDS.
- Gloves, paper towels, sampling tips, and other lab generated lightly contaminated lab-ware in most cases can be disposed bagged and placed in the normal trash. Material containing excessive contamination or a larger amount of hazardous chemical should be disposed of through Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) at 265-5000.
- Chemical containers cannot be recycled. We suggest they be triple rinsed (except those containing P-listed chemicals) and disposed of in the normal trash.
- Spent or PCB Containing Light Ballasts – These should have the wires cut as close to the ballasts as possible. Large quantities (>10) should be placed into a steel drum (provided by EHS), labeled as "PCB Ballasts" and delivered to EHS at 30 East Campus Mall. Small quantities can be arranged for pickup by EHS by using our Chemical Disposal Pickup form.
- Working Light Ballasts (non–PCB) - Must have "No PCBs" printed on them. If there is no marking, please treat them as PCB ballasts. Can be placed into steel recycling (please contact your building manager for location) or the normal trash.
Mercury & Mercury Containing Devices
Help us recycle mercury from your unwanted or broken mercury thermometers, manometers, switches, controllers etc. UW-Madison Chemical Safety Office accepts metallic mercury and unwanted, unbroken mercury-containing devices.
For free-flowing mercury from broken items follow this procedure:
- For mercury spill cleanup information please see part 5.7 Mercury Spills in the Laboratory Safety Guide.
- If dealing with a broken thermometer, preserve all sections containing visible mercury, especially the bulb. Contain the mercury in a small preferably plastic container with a secure air- and liquid-tight seal.
- Dispose of the material by filling out a Surplus Chemicals Form and submitting a Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form.
Miscellaneous Products – Products that are of no use shall not be left to accumulate. When a product is no longer to be used, it should be disposed of as soon as possible. The product shall be tagged with a Surplus Chemicals Form; include the type of product and any listing of ingredients.
Paint & Paint Related Materials
- Excess Paint – Paint must always be purchased in quantities that minimize excess paint. Excess cans of paint must not be left at job sites. Paint returned from job sites should be used for other jobs if possible. When it is determined that paint is no longer needed, the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form must be submitted and arrangements for its pickup by EHS will be made. Its usability or waste status will be determined by the EH&S office. To save space and disposal expense, partial cans should be combined if possible. When filling out the form, indicate if the paint is latex (acrylic) based or oil (alkyd) based. Excess paint may be made available to all university facilities for use on other job sites.
- Empty Paint Cans – Dry empty paint cans should be thrown away. A container is considered empty if all material has been removed that can be removed using the practices commonly employed to remove materials from that type of container (e.g., pouring, pumping, and aspirating), and no more than 2.5 centimeters (one inch) of dry residue remain on the bottom of the container.
- Paint Thinner – Used paint thinner should be collected in 5-gallon carboys provided by EH&S. No solids or sludge should be mixed with the thinner; filter the thinner if necessary. Keep the outside of the carboys clean and keep them closed when they are not being filled. Do not fill the carboys above the fill line. When full, label the carboy with the Chemical Inventory of Waste Solvents in Carboys Form and submit the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form to arrange for pickup.
- Paint Sludge – Sludge from paint and thinner should be collected in 5-gallon carboys provided by EH&S. When full, securely close and label with the Chemical Inventory of Waste Solvents in Carboys Form and submit the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form to arrange for pickup.
- Aerosol Cans – Any cans which still contain the product must be turned-in as surplus chemicals. The Surplus Chemicals Form must be submitted; include the type of product and any listing of ingredients or contents. Aerosol cans that have been completely emptied may be thrown into the normal trash. Request a pickup on the Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE DISPOSAL
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has implemented new regulations for controlled substance disposal. Previously approved disposal methods, such as flushing substances down a drain or mixing with kitty litter or coffee grounds and disposing as solid waste, are no longer permitted. Researchers cannot transport the drug to an unauthorized location and cannot transfer drugs to unauthorized persons under any circumstance. For additional information, please see the RARC Guidelines for Animal Researchers.
Controlled substances must be disposed of in a manner that permanently and irreversibly alters the substance's physical or chemical state, rendering the drug unavailable and unusable (non-retrievable). Visit the DEA Office of Diversion Control website for regulatory information and resources.
- Refrigeration Oils – Refrigeration oils should be collected in 5-gallon containers or 55-gallon drums provided by EH&S. If 5-gallon pails are used, they must be leak proof and the outsides must be kept clean. The container must be labeled as "Used Oil."
- Vacuum System Oils – These may be collected in 5-gallon containers or 55-gallon drums provided by EH&S. If 5-gallon pails are used, they must be leak proof and the outsides must be kept clean. These must be labeled as "Used Oil." On the turn-in form be sure to indicate the amount of water, if any.
- Transformer Oils – Unless there is a sticker on the transformer that states the oil is PCB free, do not drain the transformer until EH&S has been notified and tests the oil for PCB contamination. If the oil is PCB free, it should be collected in 5-gallon containers or 55-gallon drums provided by EH&S. If 5-gallon pails are used, they must be leak proof and the outsides must be kept clean. These must be labeled as "Used Transformer Oil."
- Motor Oils – Containers used to collect used motor oil must be labeled "Used Oil". The Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form must be submitted to schedule pick-up.
- Oil Filters – Should be drained into the waste motor oil and disposed of at Fleet Maintenance to be crushed with their used oil filters.
- Oily Shop Rags – Shop rags must be placed in oily rag cans if available. If the shop has a rag laundry contact established, they may send rags out to be cleaned. If no cans are available rags should be bagged, labeled, and EH&S contacted to request a chemical surplus pickup.
- Cooking Oil and Grease – Most used cooking oil and grease at campus residence halls and dining locations is picked up for disposal by an outside collection vendor. Incidental amounts of used cooking oil or grease can be collected in a 5-gallon container or pail, which must be leak proof and kept clean on the outside. These containers must be labeled as "Used Cooking Oil." The Chemical Waste/Surplus Pickup Request Form may be submitted to schedule a pickup.
Radioactive Equipment & Devices
Equipment used for research with radioactive materials is labeled with the “caution radioactive material” symbol. All such equipment is potentially contaminated and must be checked for radioactive contamination by UW-Madison Office of Radiation Safety before it can be disposed of or shipped off campus. Contact UW-Madison Office of Radiation Safety with questions; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (608) 265-5000.
Medical Sharps are instruments that are intended to cut or penetrate skin (e.g., needle, syringes with needles, lancets, and razor blades). They require special handling and may not go directly to the landfill.
- Medical sharps should be placed in an approved sharps container that is closable, puncture-resistant, leak-proof and appropriately labeled.
- MERI (Madison Energy Recovery Inc.) will pick up these collection containers for treatment.
- Material that is picked up by MERI need not be disinfected, unless it comes from a BL3 facility. If you wish to autoclave the sharps box, make sure it is designed to be autoclaved.
Non-Medical Sharps are lab materials that can cut, but are not intended to do so, and should be disposed of in a manner that prevents harm. A plastic bag does not provide adequate protection. Examples of such materials include fragile glass, glass slides and cover slips, pipettes and pipette tips.
Non-medical sharps contaminated with infectious
materials or human blood/tissues should be placed in a rigid plastic
container; and either:
1) Disinfect in the lab, affix the "OK to Trash" label, and label as "Broken glass and plasticware."
2) If not disinfected, place in a MERI collection container.
- Non-medical sharps not contaminated with infectious or potentially infectious substances should be placed in a cardboard box (lined with plastic if appropriate). The boxes should be sturdy, no larger than 12-inch x 12-inch base and 20 lbs. maximum weight. Label the box as "Broken glass and plasticware." Tape the sides and corners. When full, tape shutand affix the "OK to Trash" label. It may be left for custodians to remove from the lab area.