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Section 4 - Preparing Waste for Collection

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Where Does Your Waste Go?

The Six Steps of Preparing Waste for Collection

Step 1. Evaluate the Waste
Step 2. Collect the Waste
Step 3. Label the Waste Container
Step 4. Segregate the Chemicals for Waste Storage and Transportation
Step 5. Box the Chemicals for Transportation
Step 6. Complete the Hazardous Waste Packing Form


This section provides guidelines for collecting, labeling, segregating, filling out a hazardous waste packing form, and packaging chemical waste. Waste disposal begins with the generator (shop or laboratory personnel) who first decides if the material is no longer needed. Materials which are no longer of use should not be considered waste until all other alternatives, such as redistribution or recovery, have been considered. If no pollution prevention options are available, follow the direction in this section to dispose of the chemical.

Where Does Your Waste Go?

Chemicals collected from your work area are transported to the University's Thompson Center for Environmental Management (TCEM). Here chemicals are sorted for recycling, redistribution, storage, treatment, and disposal.

Solvents or oils may be distilled for recovery, or collected in drums or tanks for storage. The stored solvents and oils will be fuel blended for heat recovery or incinerated.

Other chemicals are also collected in drums and sent to treatment facilities in and out of state. The majority of these chemicals are sorted into compatible groups and the original containers are placed into a "lab pack". A lab pack is a steel, plastic or fiber drum that contains the intact bottles of waste surrounded by cushioning absorbent material. After the lab pack is filled, the drum is shipped for recycling, treatment, or incinerations by a University-approved contractor.

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The Six Steps of Preparing Waste for Collection

Step 1. Evaluate the Waste

Fig 4-1: Collect waste in a proper, labeled container

Determine if your unwanted chemicals (whether pure or in mixtures) are listed in the Chemical Waste Registry (see Appendix I). If the chemicals are listed in the Registry and they do not have a nonhazardous designation ("xxNH" DDC number), then they must be managed as hazardous waste following the directions in this Guidebook (see the warnings regarding the disposal of nonhazardous chemicals in Part 1 and Part 2).

If the compounds in question are not listed in the Registry, or you have chemical mixtures, follow the detailed instructions in Step 6 - Complete the Hazardous Waste Packing Form of this Guidebook.

If in doubt, manage the chemicals as hazardous waste and send them to the Chemical Waste Program following the directions in this section.

The Chemical Waste Program, (612) 626-1604,, provides waste evaluation and consultant services to waste generators.

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Step 2. Collect the Waste

Fig 4-2: Keep containers closed (except when adding or
removing waste) and use secondary containment

Hazardous waste collection bottles must be kept capped, properly labeled, and stored in a safe location in the laboratory. Collection bottles and lids must be compatible with the chemicals stored in them. Bottles containing liquids should be stored with secondary containment, such as a plastic tray or safety cabinet. Drums should not be stored with an open bung or a funnel in them. Waste containers should be stored in appropriate locations, i.e. flammable liquid or acid storage cabinets. Click here for advice on closure for waste containers for HPLC and other analytical equipment.

If containers larger than four liters in size are desirable for collecting the waste, obtain prior approval from the Chemical Waste Program. Call (612) 626-1604, Note also that any waste containing mercury compounds should be kept in separate collection bottles. Do not mix mercury waste with any other waste.

Package Chemical Waste for Collection in Appropriate Containers as Follows:

Screw cap bottles
Stoppered or corked flasks and bottles are unacceptable. The contents of these containers should be overpacked into or transferred to a screw cap bottle using a fume hood, proper protective equipment, and secondary containment. Keep in mind that both the bottle and screw cap must be chemically resistant to the waste chemical contained. Bottles with broken or cracked screw caps are also unacceptable. Note that there are exceptions to using screw cap bottles and some of these are listed below. If there are problems in transferring the waste to the suggested container for disposal, contact the Chemical Waste Program (612) 626-1604.

Exceptions to screw cap bottles: Overpacked containers
The following containers may be overpacked into a larger screw top bottle or a plastic bucket with secure lid and surrounded with an absorbent material such as vermiculite. The bucket must be labeled with the contents and amount of the enclosed container.

CAUTION: Wastes from different sources (i.e., reactions or processes) may react dangerously when mixed. Mixtures should be stored separately..

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Step 3. Label the Waste Container

Fig 4-3: Package containers upright in a sturdy box with
n0 glass-on-glass contact

Bottles of waste must be labeled as they are generated in the laboratory or work area. Every bottle must be labeled in one of two ways:

Original Label
Unused or outdated chemicals that are in their original containers with labels identifying the contents are suitable for waste pickup by boxing the containers and affixing the pink copy of the hazardous waste form to the box. The completed waste form provides the words "Hazardous Waste" and the date. If the original label appears faded or illegible, affix a new label to the bottle.

To obtain the hazardous waste labels, call the Chemical Waste Program at (612) 624-6060.

Yellow Hazardous Waste Label
Regulation requires that hazardous, chemical waste containers are labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” and a description that clearly identifies their contents to employees and emergency personnel.  Containers of hazardous waste must be labeled as they are generated in the laboratory or work area.

Figure 4-7
Hazardous Waste Label


Collection bottles used for process wastes or mixtures of spent waste may use a Hazardous Waste Label supplied by the Chemical Waste Program (illustrated above) or a facsimile.  The facsimile is required to have the words “Hazardous Waste” on the label.  It must also have the contents in plain English OR use acronyms or formulas AND have the hazard class clearly identified on the label. Providing both as above is best practice.
To better comply with label requirements, we have modified the yellow Hazardous Waste Label so that the hazards of the waste are clearly identified by check box for emergency and non-lab personnel.  When using this label, mark the check box for each Hazard that is applicable to the waste.  Refer to the numeric portion of the DDC# for each constituent (see the Chemical Registry) to assist in assigning Hazards to the waste.  Liquid wastes require constituent percentages and pH.

Hazard Class Codes (first two digits of DDC)

01 Corrosive bases 08 Flammable liquids
02 Corrosive acids 09 Flammable solids
05 Low toxicity 12 Organic peroxides
06 Combustible liquids 16 Oxidizers
07 Flammable gases 18 Poisons

To obtain hazardous waste labels, contact the chemical waste program at or (612) 624-6060. They can also be picked up in W140 Boynton or your DEHS office.

For example, for a mixture of methanol and acetic acid, using acronyms or formulas, see Figure 2:

The following procedures should be carried out to ensure proper labeling and safe handling of collection bottles:

  1. Attach the label to the bottle as soon as the bottle is started as a collection container. Record this starting date on the label.
  2. As ingredients are added to the collection bottle, maintain a separate ledger recording the ingredients and amounts added. All solvents, including water in solutions and sludges, must be recorded. The ledger must be kept next to the container
  3. Bottles in the process of being filled must be kept capped and stored in a safe location; storage location should be selected based on the characteristics of the contents.
  4. When submitting the bottle for disposal, the following information must be recorded on both the label and waste packing form:
    1. ingredients and their percentages;
    2. pH of aqueous solutions, or for organic liquids, the pH of an aqueous solution containing 10% of the organic mixture; and
    3. presence of any sludge or precipitate in the waste.

Most Common Chemical Collection and Packaging Problems. These problems will delay the prompt collection of your wastes!:

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Step 4. Segregate the Chemicals for Waste Storage and Transportation

Fig 4-4: Fill out the waste packing form following directions
in this Guidebook

For compliance with federal and state regulations and safety considerations of the University community, waste chemicals stored and/or submitted for disposal or redistribution must be segregated and packaged by chemical hazard class. These hazard classes are identified by the first two digits of the Drum Designator Code (DDC) listed for the compound in the Chemical Waste Registry (see Appendix I).

Chemical waste should be segregated and packaged for disposal according to the following procedures:

The following chemicals should always be packed in separate boxes:

Caution: Some potentially explosive chemicals, identified as shock sensitive, "xxSS" (DDC), and certain chemicals that react with water violently to produce flammable or toxic gases, identified as water reactive, "xxWS" (DDC), require special handling. For assistance, contact the Chemical Waste Program or (612) 626-1604.

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Step 5. Box the Chemicals for Transportation

Fig 4-5: Tape the bottom pink copy of the waste packing
form to the box

After chemical waste bottles have been properly labeled, package the waste for transportation by carrying out the following procedures:

Caution: Perchloric acid, fuming nitric acid, and fuming sulfuric acid are strong oxidizers and are exceptions to these procedures. If spilled, they might react with newspaper or cardboard. They should be packaged separately in a plastic bucket with a lid and surrounded by kitty litter, floor dry, or sand. (30 pound bags of floor dry are available from University Stores, (612) 624-4878, part number GC20831.)

  1. Bottles must be completely enclosed within sturdy cardboard boxes.
  2. All bottles must be tightly capped and packed in an upright position.
  3. Use appropriate cushioning or absorbent material to separate the inner containers; acceptable materials include vermiculite (preferred choice), cardboard dividers, or crumpled newspaper. Bottles should not be individually wrapped in paper. When the box is lifted, there should be no "clinking" sound heard from contact between glass bottles.
  4. It is not necessary to box five gallon pails of waste chemicals, but attach the waste packing form directly to the pail.
  5. In the case of highly volatile chemicals requiring refrigeration, do not package these chemicals for waste collection. Complete the waste packing form according to normal procedures and note on the form:
    1. that the chemicals are refrigerated and require packaging
    2. the location of the refrigerator.
  6. 6. Do not store the boxes in the hallway while awaiting pickup. Store them in a safe area in the laboratory or shop and separate them by DDC (e.g. acidic, caustic, flammable, oxidizer). If stored closely together, segregate the boxes by DDC numbers, using secondary containment trays. Secondary containment trays are available from University Stores, (612) 624-4878, part numbers CX18998 (medium) or CX18999 (large).

Laboratories generally have only four storage areas for their reagent (non-waste) chemicals: flammable, acid, base, and other, but there are several notable exceptions to this simplified segregation scheme (e.g. nitric acid). Check compatibilities using this Guidebook's Registry DDC system or Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Tubs and Trays can be used to separate chemicals within cabinets and on storage shelves.

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Step 6. Complete the Hazardous Waste Packing Form

Fig 4-6: Mail the top two copies to the Chemical Waste Program

The University hazardous waste packing form is designed to meet regulatory marking requirements for transporting hazardous waste. Failure to properly complete the waste packing form may delay the collection of the waste. The waste packing form requires the following: generator information, chemical information describing the box's contents, and a signature assuming liability (see Figure 4-8).

Generator Information

Fill out the following information: name, phone number, email address, date, department number, building number, and room number. A list of building numbers and department numbers is included in this Guidebook (see Appendix X and Appendix XI). Use these numbers rather than names. If your location is not listed, call the Chemical Waste Program for assistance at (612) 626-1604.

Chemical Information

The waste packing form is designed to have information about one container or component of a mixture per line.

The chemical information requested on the waste packing form must match the container label description for each item and should be completed adhering to the following instructions.

Chemicals listed in the Chemical Registry
(Appendix I)
The waste packing form should include the following information for pure chemicals listed in the Chemical Registry:

  1. Drum Designator Code (DDC) and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers. These numbers can be found in the Chemical Waste Registry.
  2. Compound name
  3. EPA number(s) found in the Chemical Waste Registry.
  4. If unopened, check the recycle box (RECY?).
  5. List the amount of chemical in the container in kilograms (for solids) or liters (for liquids). If the same substance is present in several containers in the same box, put the chemical amount for each container on its own line and use arrows drawn down to indicate that the rest of the information is duplicated (see Figure 4-8).
  6. Drum number. Leave this blank. This space is for Chemical Waste Program usage only.

NOTE: The online Registry is much more extensive than previous hard copy versions, so it is recommended that you use it, especially if you cannot find your chemicals listed in the older version.

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Chemicals not listed in the Chemical Registry

Prepare for pickup as follows:

  1. For a small number of unlisted chemicals, less than 5 containers, either package the items individually (single chemical type per box) or call the Chemical Waste Program, (612) 626-1604, for further instructions.
  2. Complete the chemical information on the waste packing form as above, leaving the DDC and CAS sections blank.
  3. If any of the following information is known, include this on the waste packing form:
    1. Product name
    2. Name and address of manufacturer or distributor
    3. Product or catalogue order number
    4. Approximate age
  4. Include the pH of aqueous solutions, or for organic liquids, the pH of an aqueous solution containing 10% of the organic mixture.
  5. If a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is available, include a copy with the waste packing forms.
  6. When submitting a large number of unlisted chemicals for pickup, greater than 4 containers, send, fax (612-626-1571), or e-mail at, a list of the chemicals to the Chemical Waste Program before packing. Pack these chemicals once you receive instructions from the Chemical Waste Program.

Chemical Mixtures

  1. List the mixture ingredients and their percentages on both the bottle label and waste packing form. (Include water as an ingredient of aqueous solutions.) Enclose the mixture ingredients in brackets on the waste packing form (see  Figure 4-9).
  2. Write the pH of aqueous solutions, or for organic liquids, the pH of an aqueous solution containing 10% of the organic mixture, on both the bottle label and waste packing form.
  3. Indicate on the bottle label and waste packing form (underneath the compound name) the presence of any sludge, precipitate, or material which is polymerizable.
  4. Package mixtures separately, in their own containers and boxes.

Commercial (Trade Name) Products

  1. Include the following information on the waste packing form (see  Figure 4-10).
    1. Product name
    2. Ingredient list from the bottle label with respective percentage composition
    3. Description of product's usage
    4. Manufacturer/distributor name, address, city, and telephone number
    5. Product catalog number or batch code
    6. Approximate age
    7. pH (if liquid)
  2. If available, send a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) with the form.
  3. If none of the above information is accessible, it may be necessary to treat the chemical as an unknown.

Unknown or Unlabeled Chemicals

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Generator Signature

It is the responsibility of each generator (shop or laboratory personnel) to follow the guidelines given in this Guidebook for evaluating, packaging, and labeling chemical wastes. By signing the waste packing form, the generator is stating that the procedures outlined in this Guidebook have been followed and the waste is ready for pickup. Make sure you sign your hazardous waste packing form before sending it in!

Requesting Waste Collection

After taking inventory of the box and packaging the waste, submit the waste packing form as follows:

  1. Seal the box and tape the pink bottom copy of the waste packing form to the top of the box. Draw "Up" arrows on the sides of the box and mark the top side "This End Up." Never store containers on their sides.
  2. Attach a separate note or write on the waste packing form below the compound name if special pickup arrangements are necessary (i.e., where box is stored, what days the room is open, etc.). Also note when our staff need to go elsewhere to get access to the waste location.
    Send the top two (white and yellow) pages of the waste packing form to:

    Chemical Waste Program
    TCEM 2681
    Dept. of Env. Health & Safety

    Chemical Waste Program
    University of Minnesota

    501- 23rd Avenue SE
    Minneapolis, MN 55455-0447

  3. If more than one waste packing form is needed to document the waste in a box, annotate the "page __ of __" in the lower left hand corner of the waste packing form. Tape all the bottom (pink) pages to the box. Staple together all the top (white and yellow) pages for the box and mail to the Chemical Waste Program.

Collection by the Chemical Waste Program

Typically, laboratories and shops can expect their waste to be picked up within one to two weeks of sending in the waste packing form. If you have concerns about the timeliness of your waste collection, or your waste has not been picked up within three weeks, call the Chemical Waste Program at (612) 626-1604 or e-mail at Include the tracking number from the upper right-hand corner of the waste packing form, along with the generator name, department and campus, when requesting the status of your order. Coordinate Campuses and Experiment Stations will have collections scheduled at less frequent intervals

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Figure 4-8
Pure Chemical Waste

Figure 4-8 describes nine separate containers of pure chemical waste in one box. Drum Designator Codes (DDC) and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) numbers are listed in the Chemical Waste Registry, Appendix I. Note that the first four containers hold chemicals which are potentially recyclable. For chemical wastes that consist of mixtures of chemicals, commercial products, or unknowns, see Part 4.

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Figure 4-9
Pure Chemical Waste

Figure 4-9 describes two bottles, each filled with the same chemical mixture. For each component of the mixture, the Drum Designator Code (DDC), Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, compound name, and the approximate percentage are listed. Note that the pH of the liquid mixture is indicated on the waste packing form.

Figure 4-10
Pure Chemical Waste

Figure 4-10 shows a single container of a commercial product waste. The product name, catalogue number, manufacturer's name, address, and phone number, the approximate age of the chemical, and the DDC and CAS numbers are listed on the waste packing form.

Note: If a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is available for a commercial product waste, it should be attached directly to the waste packing form.

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