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7.7 Chemically Contaminated Items / Empty Containers

In general, Chemically Contaminated Items (CCIs) can only be put into the normal trash if they are non-hazardous, non-ignitable, non-reactive, non-carcinogenic, non-mutagenic, non-infectious, non-radioactive, and the contaminant is not highly toxic. Examples include disposable items such as gloves, benchtop coverings, pipets, test tubes, etc.

If you feel that the normal trash is not an appropriate disposal route for your CCIs, then package them in a leak-proof container or plastic bag and label with a Hazardous Waste Label as “Chemically Contaminated Items” and the name and approximate percentage of chemical contaminants.

Chemical containers which have been emptied by all practicable means, i.e., pouring, pumping scraping etc., and there is less than one inch of residue, or no more than 3% of the total weight of the container if it was less than 119 gallons, and the container didn’t previously hold a chemical that would be an acutely toxic waste (P-Listed), the container is considered trash.  This is the definition of a RCRA empty container.

EHS recommends rinsing RCRA empty containers before putting them into the lab trash cans because of potential odor issues.  Labels on containers should be defaced or removed before disposal in a trash can or dumpster.

If the empty container didn’t hold a waste solvent or a P-Listed liquid and is truly “RCRA Empty”, as described in the 3rd paragraph of this section, then letting it air out under a hood would be permissible.  It’s not permitted to allow a hazardous waste to evaporate in lieu of disposal.

You may use soap and water to rinse containers which once held solvents, whether they were non-miscible or not.  Do not use a solvent to rinse an empty container because it generates more waste.  If an empty container requiring disposal is stinky, non-miscible (and not P-Listed) the easiest solution is putting it into a plastic bag and placing it in the dumpster.  Please be aware that some campus facilities, custodial personnel may not be permitted to dispose of questionable chemical containers in the trash.  This may require you to personally bag or box your waste containers and dispose of them in the facility dumpster.

If you have any questions concerning management of chemically contaminated items or containers, please contact EHS at "askEHS".