Chemical Waste Quick Start Guide

The Division of Research Safety (DRS) collects chemical waste from the campus free of charge. This page describes the chemical waste disposal program.

How do I request a chemical waste pickup?

  1. Identify materials for disposal. Check with others in your department or building to see if they would like your unused/surplus chemicals.
  2. Submit a pickup request on the DRS web site using the Waste Management tab. Select Request a Pickup > Chemical Waste. Detailed instructions are available at the top of the Pickup Request page.
  3. The application allows you to chose from tens of thousands of chemical products and lab-generated mixtures. However, if you have a chemical product or mixture not listed on the application, choose "New Chemical." If you have a commercial product, add the product name, manufacturer, and web address of the Safety Data Sheet in the Waste Description box. If it is a lab-generated mixture, list each constituent and the percent by weight. Include any solvent, including water.

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that the person generating the waste provides the DRS with a complete and accurate inventory of the chemical wastes to be recycled or disposed of prior to collection. This provides the DRS with the opportunity to review the inventory to evaluate any potential hazards, incompatibilities, and also to assign the appropriate EPA codes to each waste. Inaccurate information puts at risk the DRS personnel picking up the waste as well as the staff who manage your waste prior to its final disposal. Inaccurate information such as mislabeling or misidentifying a chemical also puts the U of I at risk of litigation if an accident should occur during transportation off-campus or at the final disposal facility.

What happens next?

DRS will process your request and notify you when your pickup is scheduled. You will receive instructions about printing labels for all the chemical waste container listed on your request. You must attach each label to the matching chemical waste container before the pickup date.

What if I need more help?

Call 217-333-2755 or email cws@illinois.edu and ask for additional assistance from the DRS staff.

What is chemical waste?

Examples of chemical waste include but are not limited to: unused and surplus reagent chemicals; chemical waste generated from research and educational experiments and procedures; spent solvents, stains, strippers, thinners, varnishes, and wood preservatives; used oil of all types; batteries; non-returnable gas cylinders; spent acids and bases; personal protective equipment, laboratory equipment, and glassware contaminated with chemicals; clean-up debris generated from chemical spills; discarded equipment containing hazardous materials; photographic film processing solutions; pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers; mercury-containing items; unused and surplus cleaners (e.g., bleach, carpet cleaners, disinfectants, floor polish and wax, toilet cleaners); unused and surplus paint, both oil and latex; aerosol cans (e.g., air fresheners, paint, cleaners, etc.); fuel oils; and preserved specimens.

May I pour my chemical waste down the drain?

Only aqueous (water-based) liquids containing non-hazardous chemicals may be poured down the sanitary sewer (sink drain). See Disposal of Liquid Non-hazardous Chemicals for a list of chemicals that you may dispose of down the sanitary sewer.

May I put my chemical waste in the trash?

NO. Absolutely no chemical waste may be disposed of in the trash, even if it is considered non-hazardous or is a very small amount. Chemical wastes and chemically contaminated articles should be disposed of via the DRS chemical waste disposal program. The DRS manages all chemical wastes according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulations.

Can I just bring you my chemical waste?

NO. The DRS chemical waste collection procedures have been developed to comply with the IEPA regulations. These procedures require the DRS to pre-approve the collection of all chemical wastes and track each waste item from the place of generation until the waste leaves campus for disposal. Only DRS personnel are authorized to pick up chemical waste for transportation to the Special Materials Storage Facility.

How do I collect and store my chemical waste?

The IEPA has established specific requirements for the storage of chemical wastes. You must ensure that the following requirements for chemical waste containers are followed:

  • Keep all chemical waste containers closed at all times except when waste is being actively added to the container. The IEPA defines a “closed” container as being “vapor tight” and “spill proof.”
  • Label waste containers with words that identify the contents of the container, such as “Waste - Acetone.” The term “Waste” should be included on the label in addition to the properly identified container contents. Complete chemical names shall be used to identify the contents of the container. Abbreviations and chemical formulas are not permitted. If a generic name such as “Waste - Halogenated Solvents” is used, a list identifying what chemicals are in the container must be kept nearby.
  • Label chemical waste containers before or at the time the first drop of waste is added to the container.
  • All waste containers must be in good condition and be compatible with the waste in the container.
  • Reuse chemical containers only if they are in good condition (no cracks, major dents) and have a threaded cap that can seal tightly. The DRS will not accept broken or leaking chemical waste containers. Remove or completely deface the manufacturer's label or any other label.
  • Unused or outdated chemicals in their original containers with labels identifying the contents do not need the word "Waste" written on the labels. If the label appears faded or illegible, affix a new label to the bottle. Reattach labels that are coming loose.
  • Avoid excessive accumulations of waste. Have waste removed by DRS on a regular basis and do not store more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste in your lab or work area.

Last Update: 9/1/2016