Hazardous waste disposal

Find information on how Earlham College handles the disposal of laboratory and hazardous waste.

Containers and labeling

Hazardous waste containers

Containers for hazardous waste do not need to be anything special. Regulations (and common sense) dictate that they should be compatible with the waste they are to contain (for example: a metal container would not appropriate for acid-containing waste).

Containers must be labeled, at a minimum, with the following items:

  • The words “HAZARDOUS WASTE.”
  • A description of the waste. Include the waste stream type if possible; common waste streams at Earlham include:
    • Non-Halogenated Solvents: acetone, alcohols, mineral spirits
    • Halogenated Solvents: methylene chloride, chloroform
    • Heavy Metals : arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver)
    • Others (corrosive waste, reactive waste, oxidizer waste, etc.
  • The date waste was first added to the container.
  • The date the container was full (should never exceed one year).
  • Other information (optional, but highly recommended):
    • What process the waste is generated from.
    • Volume date (dates and amount added).

Containers should remain closed at all times, except when adding waste to the container.

It is highly recommend that waste containers be placed in some type of secondary containment, such as a plastic bin, in case of a spill or overflow. Also, waste containers should be accompanied by some type of means to clean up an accidental spill or overflow (a bucket of cheap kitty litter works well).

If you need a container, label, or if you have a filled container, please contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer.

Earlham’s normal waste disposal is in May/June of each year. Waste will be picked up at that time unless other arrangements have been made.

Heavy metals

Disposal considerations for solutions containing metal salts

Many heavy metals are regulated by the EPA and thus cannot go down the drain. Additionally, certain metals pose a high toxicity hazard and also may not go down the drain. These include:

Antimony (Sb)Cobalt (Co)Lead (Pb)Rhenium (Re)Thallium (Tl)
Arsenic (As)Gallium (Ga)Manganese (Mn)Rhodium (Rh)Tungsten (W)
Barium (Ba)Germanium (Ge)Mercury (Hg)Ruthenium (Ru)Vanadium (V)
Beryllium (Be)Hafnium (Hf)Nickel (Ni)Selenium (Se) 
Cadmium (Cd)Indium (In)Osmium (Os)Silver (Ag) 
Chromium (Cr)Iridium (Ir)Platinum (Pt)Tellurium (Te) 

The above chart lists all metals which should be collected for off-campus disposal (metals in bold are RCRA and should be collected as hazardous waste). 

Additionally, local ordinance restricts the following metals from entering the City of Richmond sanitary sewer system above certain concentrations:

Copper: 1.5 mg/L
Zinc: 2 mg/L

Note:  If the metals waste generated contains solvent, it should be collected separately from metals waste that is aqueous. 

Solvent waste

Waste solvent from chemical processes or cleaning should be be collected for disposal as hazardous waste.

Waste solvent at Earlham typically falls into four waste stream categories:

  • Non-Halogenated Solvent Waste:  This is the most common waste stream, consisting of solvents such as acetone, ethanol, methanol, ether, hexanes, ethyl acetate, and toluene.
  • Halogenated Solvent Waste:  Solvent waste that contains, either in total or as a mixture, halogenated solvents such as chloroform, dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
  • Heavy Metals Solvent Waste:  Solvent waste that contains quantities of heavy metals, such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver
  • Paint Solvent and Residue:  Solvent waste resulting from using oil based paints and thinners, including amounts of oil-based paint residue

All of these waste streams should be collected in a container that is suitable for the waste being collected and labeled with the words “HAZARDOUS WASTE” along with the name of the waste stream.

If you are unsure of what waste stream your process falls under, are starting a new process that generates waste, or have any other questions, please contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer.