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Empty Container Disposal

Introduction

The disposal of containers that have held hazardous materials is strictly regulated.  All empty containers should be emptied to the extent practical. Any residue remaining in the containers may result in the generation of hazardous waste that must be handled and disposed of properly. The re-use and disposal of improperly handled “empty” containers could result in health and safety concerns and/or regulatory actions and fines.  The following guidelines have been developed to ensure that empty containers are disposed of properly.

Step 1: Empty the Container

Containers Containing Acutely Hazardous Chemicals

Empty containers that held acutely hazardous chemicals must be triple rinsed to be considered empty. Please consult the P-list for a listing of chemicals that are considered to be acutely hazardous.   These containers that are triple rinsed must have the rinse material collected and disposed of as hazardous waste.  A container containing acutely hazardous materials is considered empty if there are no visible material (liquid, solid, etc.)  or residual remaining after you has conducted a triple rinse. Contact EHRS at 2-2520 if rinse material is anticipated to be excessive.

Special requirements for Pesticide Containers

The manufacturer’s label and MSDS should be read to determine if there are any special precautions that must be taken concerning disposal.  Containers that held pesticides must never be recycled or reused.  Never dispose of pesticide other than the method listed on the label. Contact EHRS at 2-2520 if you require further assistance.

All Other Containers:

Containers - Liquid

  • Triple rinse all containers with a material (water, solvent, etc.) capable of removing the original material. Consult with your Supervisor or Principal Investigator for a suitable rinse material.
  • It may be necessary to collect the rinsate for disposal as hazardous waste depending on the original contents and the material used for rinsing. Refer to Hazardous Chemical Waste Defined for additional information.
  • Allow container to air dry.
  • A liquid container is considered empty if:
    • No liquids can drain from it when tilted in any direction.
    • There is no hazardous material remaining that can feasibly be removed
    • The walls have no crusted materials on them

Containers - Solid or Non-Pourable (ex. Powders, sludges, grease, thick resin, crystals, etc...)

  • Scrape the interior surface clean. Consult with Supervisor or Principal Investigator for proper instructions prior to scraping any chemical container.
  • Triple rinse all containers with a material (water, solvent, etc.) capable of removing the original material. Consult with your Supervisor or Principal Investigator.
  • It may be necessary to collect the scrapings and/or rinsate for disposal as hazardous waste depending on the original contents and the material used for rinsing. Refer to Hazardous Chemical Waste Defined for additional information.
  • Allow container to air dry if necessary
  • A solid or non-pourable container is considered empty if:
    • The interior surface and walls of the container are scraped clean with no adhered or encrusted material, and /or residual material.

 Containers - Compressed Gas Cylinders

Containers - Aerosols

Aerosol containers must be completely empty of product and propellant to be considered empty. The spray mechanism or nozzle must be in place and functional. Aerosol cans that contained pesticides, flammable propellants, acutely hazardous chemicals or otherwise meet the regulator definition of a hazardous waste, although considered empty will need to be managed as hazardous waste.

Containers - Oil

  • Empty all material out of container as best as possible.
  • Add absorbents or adsorbents (Oil Dri, kitty liter) to take up any free oil left in container.
  • Dispose of absorbents and/or adsorbents in the municipal trash as long as there is no free-flowing oil.
  • Scrape the interior surface clean.
  • Allow container to air dry if necessary

Containers - Highly Odoriferous Materials

Empty containers of highly odoriferous materials (ex. thiols, mercaptans, etc.) must be processed and disposed of through EHRS (Chemical Waste Pickup Form) as hazardous waste. Empty containers should be placed into a sealable bag, labeled as Hazardous waste and stored inside a properly operating chemical fume hood until picked up by EHRS.

Containers - Drums-15/30/55 Gallon

Contact EHRS at 215-707-2520 for instructions on how to properly decontaminate and/or dispose of an empty drum that contained a hazardous material.

Containers - Unable to rinse or decontaminate empty container of Hazardous Materials

If the container cannot be declared as empty after following the mandatory steps listed above, than the container and its contents must be processed and disposed through EHRS (Chemical Waste Pickup Form) as hazardous waste. The container must be labeled as “Hazardous Waste.”

Step 2: Deface the Label

  • Remove or cross-out all labels and associated hazard warning information with a large dark permanent marker. It must be obvious that the container does not hold the original material.
  • Clearly write the words “Empty” on the container.
  • Remove all lids and/or caps from the container unless container is going to be reused in the lab or work space (See Step 3).  This is to prevent the container from becoming pressurized if it is compacted.

Step 3: Recycle/Re-Use the Container

Empty chemical containers make excellent hazardous waste containers and staff should make efforts to recycle them whenever possible. Reuse empty glass or plastic container whenever possible. Reuse of empty metal containers are not recommended.  You will need to insure that the chemicals or hazardous waste collected in them are compatible with the container and any residual that remains in the container.

Step 4: Dispose of the Container

Containers (≤ 5 gal/ 20 L)

 Containers - Glass/Plastic - (≤1 gal/ 5 L)

  • Place directly into a commercially available broken glass or plastic ware container. Any cardboard box may be used as long as it is sturdy and weighs no more than 40 pounds.
  •  Boxes/ Containers must be lined with a clear plastic liner and sealed with tape once closed.  Do not use a red or orange bag for the liner. Do not deposit needles, syringes, sutures, scalpels, razor blades, and scissors in this container.
  • Containers/cardboard boxes must sealed with tape and be labeled as “NON-CONTAMINATED LABORATORY GLASSWARE and PLASTICWARE”
  • All containers must be stored in a safe and secure manner until processed. Do not place empty containers in the hallway or any other unsecure area.
  • Containers can be sent for recycling and/or placed into the municipal waste stream.
  • Arrange for removal of these containers with Housekeeping/Environmental Services staff.

Containers - Glass/Plastic (>1 gal/5 L) & Fiber/Metal

  • All containers must be stored in a safe and secure manner until processed. Do not place empty containers in the hallway or any other unsecure area.
  • Broken and/or damaged plastic and/or glass containers shall be disposed of in either a broken glass box (for glass) and or broken plastic ware container (for plastic.)
  • Containers can be sent for recycling and/or placed into the municipal waste stream.
  • Arrange for removal of these containers with Housekeeping/Environmental Services staff.

Containers (> 5 gal/ 20 L)

Containers - Glass/Plastic/Fiber/Metal

  • Containers can be sent for recycling and/or placed into the municipal waste stream.
  • All containers must be stored in a safe and secure manner until processed. Do not place empty containers in the hallway or any other unsecure area.
  • Arrange for the proper removal of these containers with Housekeeping/Environmental Services staff.
  • EHRS can assist in the removal of any container greater than 5 gallons. Please contact EHRS at 2-2520.

NOTE:  All alternate empty container disposal methods must be pre-approved by EHRS.

Contact EHRS via e-mail

Phone: 2-2520 or 215-707-2520 (off campus)