Chemical Disposal

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chemical Safety Disposal Group manages the proper disposal of all unwanted chemicals for our campus community. This includes hazardous waste, such as solvents contained in carboys, as well as other used and unwanted surplus materials. Many chemical are also saved for reuse through our Chemical Redistribution Program.  

When you have chemicals for disposal, check if they are listed on the Disposal Procedures by Chemical to determine if you can dispose of the material yourselfMany chemicals can be managed in the lab via sewer, trash, or added to existed solvent carboys. Chemicals not listed should be submitted to Chemical Safety for disposal. 

What do I do when I have chemicals for disposal? 

  1. Submit a request via the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Request Form. Fill out the required information and a description of the surplus chemical(s) you have that you would like picked up. 
  2. Also fill out the paper Surplus Chemicals Form (PDF) and keep it with the chemical(s) for pick-up.  
  3. Prepare your chemicals for pickup. Make sure all chemicals are in sealed containers, liquids are in secondary containment (i.e. a plastic dish tub), and incompatible chemicals are segregated. Place all chemicals, with the Surplus Chemical Form, in a safe, visible location in the lab.  

***Please be as thorough as possible when filling out these formsthis information is important regarding a chemical’sfinal disposal destination. 

The Chemical Safety Disposal Group has a set weekly pickup schedule that can be found on the Disposal Pickup Schedule webpage.  

 Chemical Redistribution 

Sometimes when we pick up your unwanted chemicals, they may still be useful or new/unopened. This gives our Chemical Safety Disposal Group the option to utilize our Chemical Redistribution Program, which tries to reduce the volume of unused chemicals being disposed of as waste.When we collect a chemical for disposal, a chemist examines it to determine that it has not degraded and is still useful for research, and viable chemicals are made available FREE of charge to our campus community. The goal of this program is to reduce waste and save money. 

Common Disposal Guidelines

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Acrylamide Disposal

  • Solid acrylamide powder and aqueous acrylamide solutions should be clearly labeled in a sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request for proper disposal.
  • Acrylamide that is polymerized in gels can be safely disposed of in the normal trash.
  • Empty acrylamide containers can be disposed of in the normal trash. (Recyclopedia: Empty chemical)

Animal Bedding

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 608-279-0869 or email tvannieuwenhoven@fpm.wisc.edu.

Animal waste materials are handled in the following manner:

  • Double bag and seal for disposal via normal trash
  • Dumping into the Garbel for sanitary sewer disposal is acceptable.
  • Waste is handled by non-animal care staff should be bagged and placed inside a box and labeled.

Antibiotic Disposal

  • Small quantities of dilute aqueous antibiotic solutions can be safely disposed of via the sanitary sewer.
  • Larger quantities of aqueous antibiotic solutions or solid antibiotic compounds should be clearly labeled in a sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request for proper disposal.
  • Antibiotics in an organic solvent solution can be bulked into an appropriate waste carboy (white or yellow, depending on which solvent is present)
  • Empty antibiotic containers can be disposed of in the normal trash. (Recyclopedia: Empty chemical)
  • The best method to prevent antibiotics from getting into the environment is through careful planning. Use as little as possible for your process. When possible, choose antibiotics that can be inactivated prior to disposal. Talk to chemical safety staff for assistance.

Cyanide Salts Disposal

  • All unused cyanide salts should be submitted to Chemical Safety for proper disposal.
  • Additionally, many cyanide salts are P-listed chemicals, so any containers or mixtures which meet any of the following criteria should also be clearly labeled in a sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request form for proper disposal;
    • It is the original virgin product
    • It is in a solution where it is the sole active ingredient
    • It is the container of the original virgin product
  • Used cyanide-containing mixtures which still contain high levels of cyanide may also need to be managed by chemical safety staff.
  • Plan for disposal routes before beginning your process. Consult with Chemical Safety to determine what may or may not need to be collected and how best to do so.

Ethidium Bromide Disposal

  • Solid ethidium bromide powder and aqueous ethidium bromide solutions should be clearly labeled in a sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request for proper disposal.
  • Ethidium bromide in an organic solvent solution can be bulked into a yellow waste carboy.
  • Acrylamide gels that contain ethidium bromide can be safely disposed of in the normal trash.
  • Empty ethidium bromide containers can be disposed of in the normal trash. (Recyclopedia: Empty chemical)
  • Labware contaminated with ethidium bromide is considered Lab Trash and can be handled as such. (Recyclopedia: Lab Trash or

Minimally-Contaminated Material

Minimally-contaminated material is lightly contaminated labware, disposable gloves, aprons, bench top coverings, centrifuge tubes, pipettes, pipette tips, test tubes, unwanted glassware and other items that are contaminated with chemical residue.

Collections of chemical samples, usually in milligram amounts in small vials, from synthesis or systematic testing should be kept together in an orderly manner and at least group labeled if not individually. Disposal to our contractor is best accomplished if these items have an identity and are not in a heap, as though they were trash.

EH&S can pick up some materials, but much of it can be simply placed in the normal trash.

  1. Material contaminated with P-list chemicals should be picked up by EH&S if it is the original container of the virgin product or contains residue of the P-list chemical as the sole active ingredient. See P-list.
  2. Material contaminated with toxic or carcinogenic chemicals should be segregated from normal trash by bagging or other secondary containment methods before placing it in the trash. Chemical residues that may need to be handled by EH&S are listed below, please contact Chemical Safety to make this determination.
m-Cresol

Heptachlor

Pentachlorophenol

Vinyl Chloride

Chromium

Endrin

Nitrobenzene

2,4,5-TP Silvex

Chloroform

2,4-Dinitrotoluene

Methyl Ethyl Ketone

2,4,6-Trichlorophenol

Chlorobenzene

1,1-Dichloroethylene

Methoxychlor

2,4,5-Trichlorophenol

Chlordane

1,2-Dichloroethane

Mercury

Trichloroethylene

Carbon Tetrachloride

1,4-Dichlorobenzene

Lindane

Toxaphene

Cadmium

2,4-D

Lead

Tetrachloroethylene

Benzene

Cresol, total

Hexachloroethane

Silver

Barium

p-Cresol

Hexachlorobutadiene

Selenium

Arsenic

o-Cresol

Hexachlorobenzene

Pyridine

  1. Material contaminated with substances not listed above can be places in the normal trash. Rinsing or bagging materials prior to placing them in the trash is suggested.

If you have questions regarding whether this type of disposal is appropriate for a chemical you are using please call 608-279-0869 or email tvannieuwenhoven@fpm.wisc.edu.

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Organic Solvents

New or unused organic solvents no longer needed should be submitted to chemical safety for pickup as surplus chemicals. Where possible, quality chemicals will be included in our Chemical Redistribution Program.

Used organic solvents are a Hazardous Waste and must be managed by chemical safety. A hazardous waste must be collected in a closable, compatible container, labeled with the phrase “Hazardous Waste” and the primary hazard (typically “Flammable”). Volumes no more than a gallon are best collected in old solvent bottles. For collecting larger volumes, you should request a solvent carboy.

What is a solvent carboy?

A carboy is a 5 gallon (20 liter), square, plastic jug that is given out by the Office of Chemical Safety for use as a collection container for used lab solvents.

How do I get a solvent carboy?

Fill out the required information and how many solvent carboys for drop off that you’d like on the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Request Form.

What color/type of solvent carboy do I need?

The carboys for non-halogenated waste solvents are white. White carboys are used for the collection of waste solvents such as alcohols, acetone, acetonitrile, toluene, etc. suitable for fuel blending. Follow the Guidelines For Using Carboys.

The carboys for halogenated waste solvents are yellow/orange. Yellow/orange carboys are used for the collection of halogenated solvents such as chloroform, dichloromethane (methylene chloride), Freon 113 (trichlorotrifluoroethane) and trichloroethylene. Follow the Guidelines For Using Carboys.

What do I need to do when my solvent carboy is full?

1. Use the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Request Form. Fill out the required information indicating which solvent carboys you want picked up and/or swapped out for empty ones.

2. Fill out the Chemical Inventory of Waste Flammable Solvents (Carboys) Form for each full carboy and keep them with the carboys for pick-up.

Do I have to use a solvent carboy?

No! If your lab does not generate enough waste to fill a 20 L carboy in a timely fashion, does not have space for a carboy, your building is limited by MAQ concerns, or your waste is not compatible with common organic solvents, you do not have to use a carboy. Simply collect your material in a sealed, compatible, and disposable container (empty solvent bottles are ideal). Label the bottle as “Hazardous Waste, Flammable” along with a description of the actual contents (e.g. 20% ethyl acetate in hexane). You may use this label that is designed to be printed on Avery Label #5168.When the container is full, submit a request via the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Request Form for the container to be picked up.

Oil, Oily Rags, and Oil Filters

Used Oil 

The Chemical Safety Disposal Group will provide free 20 L polypropylene plastic carboys and 55- gallon metal drums to be filled with used oil for recycling. If you are in need of one of these containers, please submit an Online request on the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Formwebpage.   

You may alternatively use your own container, such as a five-gallon pail. It should be able to be completely sealed and leak-proof. The outside of the container must be kept clean and labeled as “Used Oil”.   

Acceptable types of used oil to be put into a carboy or 55-gallon drum for disposal include Motor Oil, Fryer/Cooking Oil, Refrigeration Oil, Hydraulic and Vacuum System Oil.   

Please note, DO NOTDrain Transformer Oil into a carboy or 55-gallon drum unless it directly states on the transformer that it is “PCB free”. If the Transformer Oil does not directly state that it is “PCB free”, the Chemical Safety Disposal Group should be notified, and this oil will need to be tested for PCB contamination. Label all Transformer Oil containers as “Used Transformer Oil”.   

Please do not fill these carboys or 55-gallon drums with:  

  • Solvents  
  • Diesel Fuel  
  • Anti-Freeze  
  • Any Type of Chemical  
  • Water  

Oily Rags 

Oily rags must be placed in oily rag cans, if available. If the facility has a rag laundry contract established, they may send rags out to be cleaned. If no cans are available rags should be bagged, labeled, and submitted to EH&S as a chemical surplus pickup. 

Oil Filters 

All oil should be drained and collected as described above. Empty oil filters may and disposed of at Fleet Maintenance to be crushed or submitted to EH&S as a chemical surplus pickup. 

Osmium Tetroxide Disposal

  • Osmium Tetroxide is a P-listed chemical so it should be clearly labeled in sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request for proper disposal; if any of the following criteria are met:
    • It is the original virgin product
    • It is in a solution where it is the sole active ingredient
    • It is the container of the original virgin product
  • As part of your process, osmium tetroxide solutions can be reduced to a less volatile form via either of the following two ways:
    • Add a freshly made solution of sodium sulfite to the osmium tetroxide solution and gently stir. A black or dark purple color will indicate the reduction
    • Add corn oil to the osmium tetroxide solution and shake. The solution should turn dark and form a suspension indicating the reduction took place.

Sewer Disposal

What can I put down the sanitary sewer?

Many solutions and soluble solids can be safely disposed of via the sanitary sewer. When determining if a material can be disposed of via sanitary sewer, refer to Disposal Procedures by Chemical or consult with any one of the Chemical safety staff. Generally soluble organic salts, sugars, amino acids, nucleotides, vitamins, surfactants, and many other metabolic intermediates can be disposed of via the sanitary sewer without much trouble. Many of the soluble salt combinations of common cations and anions can be discharged down the drain as well, but please refer to the Chemical Safety Guide or a Chemical Safety staff member to be sure of your specific salt. Most acids and bases can be sewered as well, provided that they have first been properly neutralized.

What can I NOT put down the sanitary sewer?

  • Insoluble materials
  • Dyes
  • Malodorous chemicals
  • Flammable solutions
  • Reactive materials
  • Acids/Bases that haven’t first been neutralized
  • The following metals, in any form, without consulting with Chemical Safety
    • As, Ag, Ba, Cd, Cr, Hg, Pb
  • Any other EPA Hazardous wastes

Are there any limits as to how much that can be sewered?

Yes. Disposal Procedures by Chemical assumes laboratory scale amounts are to be sewered. If you have any bulk chemicals, greater than 1 kg of solids or 4 L of liquids, consult with Chemical Safety.

Are there any special procedures for sewering chemicals?

 

  • Wear appropriate PPE (gloves, safety glasses/goggles, etc.)
  • Use copious amounts of water to completely dissolve and flush the chemical down the drain so that it does not merely sit in the drain trap.
  • Pour a small amount of the chemical at first, noting any reactivity and insolubility. If needed, use warm water to help dissolve solids and increase the solubility. DO NOT try to flush any chemical that is insoluble.
  • If sewering more than one chemical at a time, be aware that some chemicals may react with each other in solution to form insoluble compounds that can cause problems in the drainpipe. These should NOT be poured together. Be sure that one of them is thoroughly rinsed down the drain before the other is poured. (For example: calcium salts and phosphates when in solution together will form insoluble calcium phosphate which can build up in the drainpipe eventually causing a clog.)
  • Some chemicals can be malodorous when put into solution, for those chemicals, it is recommended that they be sewered in a hood sink.

Silica and Alumina

What is a Silica Carboy?

A carboy is a 15 liter, round, plastic jug that is given out by the Office of Chemical Safety for use as a collection container for used silica and silica contaminated with organic solvents.

How do I get a Silica Carboy?

Fill out the required information about how many silica carboys for drop off on the Chemical Disposal/Surplus Pickup Request Form.

What is NOT allowed to be put into a Silica Carboy?

  • Normal lab trash (gloves, weigh boats, paper, pipette tips, etc.
  • Heavy metals (Hg, Cd, Pb, Cr, Se, Ba, As)
  • Sharps (needle, razors)
  • Lab glass (test tubes, small bottles, etc.)

What do I need to do when my Silica Carboy is full?

  1. Fill out the required information about how many silica carboys you want picked up and/or swapped out for empty ones and submit the form on this webpage.
  2. Then fill out the Chemical Inventory of Waste Solvents in Carboys Form and keep the with the carboys for pick-up.

Silica Carboy Checklist

  • Carboys should be capped at all time except when being filled.
  • Each carboy should have a hazardous waste silica tag attached to it.
  • Each carboy should have a log of all of the chemicals added to that carboy.

Unknown Compound Disposal

  • Unknown chemicals are costly to dispose of properly. All chemicals must be properly classified by chemical safety staff in order to safely and legally dispose of the chemicals.
  • Consult with other lab personnel to try to identify or provide as much possible information as is known. Include this information on the Surplus Chemical Form, such as:
    • Best knowledge of what the unknown might be or a general chemical classification (i.e. aromatic compound, thiol compound, etc.) with as many details as you can give.
    • What type of research was done in the lab that either could have generated the unknown or for which the unknown could have been used during the process
    • What compounds the lab DOES NOT work with. Often it is helpful to confirm what the unknown is not so that the possibilities of what it could be are greatly narrowed down
  • Unknown compounds should in a sealed container and given to Chemical Safety via the Surplus Chemical Pick-up Request for proper disposal.