Disposal of “Empty” Chemical Containers-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Disposal of “Empty” Chemical Containers

At couple of times a year, EH&S gets contacted by a panicked facilities worker, custodian or visitor who has encountered a "nearly empty" chemical container in the trash or in the hallway.  They are panicked because the container label often lists serious hazards or often the container "just looks dangerous".  And sometimes, they ARE indeed still dangerous.  To prevent both real and perceived hazards related to container disposal, please do the following:

  • Empty all containers as completely as possible, either by use or by disposal of the contents into a hazardous waste accumulation container appropriate for the hazard.
  • For water soluble materials, rinse the remaining traces of chemical into the sink with COPIOUS amounts of water.  If the material is a high hazard item, omit this last step and turn the container itself in as hazardous waste.
  • Remove, obliterate or obscure the container label.  Alternatively, you can mark the container label "clean and empty".

The cleaned, unidentifiable container may be then placed in a glass recycling container, or in your broken glass container (regardless of whether it is broken or not).