Chemical and Hazardous Waste Management and Disposal Policy

Authority: President
Date Enacted or Revised: Enacted February 2016; Revised March 15, 2022


This policy provides guidelines for safely handling, storing, and disposing chemical and hazardous waste.

Responsibility for Chemical and Hazardous Waste

Faculty and staff are responsible for safe work practices and procedures in their respective work areas. Faculty and staff working with chemical and/or hazardous waste must coordinate its proper disposal with the environmental health, safety, and hazardous waste officer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the federal and state Department of Transportation regulate hazardous waste handling and disposal. Non-compliance with regulatory requirements can result in significant fines and may compromise safety for the campus environment. The cooperation of all supervisors and personnel is necessary to make laboratories and areas where chemicals are utilized safe places to learn and work. Any questions that are not covered in this document should be directed to the safety officer.

The ultimate responsibility for proper inventory, handling, storage, or disposal of chemicals or chemical/hazardous waste materials lies with the dean or vice president who oversees the faculty/staff utilizing the original material. Any improper management or disposal of materials that results in additional costs and/or regulatory actions or fines will be charged to the operating or restricted accounts of the responsible college/department.

Hazardous Materials and Waste Defined

According to the EPA, hazardous waste is ignitable (flash point of < 140 F) or corrosive (pH of < 2 or > 12.5). Reactive chemicals, radioactive materials, poisonous materials, carcinogens, biohazards, compressed gasses, toxic chemicals, infectious items, and other specifically listed materials by the EPA are considered toxic or toxic waste. Hazardous wastes may include byproducts from chemical reactions or unwanted commercial products. The safety officer provides guidance for handling and proper disposal.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) Required

Material safety data sheets (MSDS) or safety data sheets (SDS), which may be found on the website of the material’s manufacturer, are good sources of information for determining whether a particular material meets criteria to be designated as hazardous. MSDSs/SDSs must be available in laboratories or other spaces where chemicals are used or stored. All chemicals must be labeled and stored properly in appropriate containers. Deans are responsible for ensuring their college maintains each of its lab’s MSDS/SDS sheets; supervisors of non-academic units that deal with hazardous materials or waste are responsible for maintaining the MSDS/SDS sheets in each space where hazardous materials or waste is present.

Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste may not be disposed of in the trash or drain. Hazardous waste must be collected, submitted to the safety officer, and shipped to a permitted facility. Improperly managed hazardous waste presents a safety hazard to the campus, students, and employees; creates a physical hazard to plumbing and buildings; and creates an environmental hazard should releases occur to the air, ground, or water.

Hazardous Waste Accumulation and Storage

Laboratory supervisors must follow these guidelines for accumulating and storing hazardous waste. More detailed information is available from the safety officer.

  1. Material Safety Data Sheets/Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs/SDSs) must be accurate and maintained in a designated place in any area containing chemicals or hazardous waste.
  2. Appropriate personal protective equipment (eye protection, gloves, aprons, etc.) must be worn when dealing with chemicals and hazardous materials or waste.
    1. Hazardous waste should be stored in or near the lab where it is generated. Waste should be consolidated in one place in the lab rather than different cabinets and countertops.
    2. A single hazardous waste accumulation area is appropriate for a suite of labs under the supervision and control of the same supervisor.
    3. All lab occupants must be familiar with the activities/experiments of the lab.
    4. Hazardous waste should not be removed from the lab or room.
  3. Waste material must be compatible with the collection container (e.g., corrosives must not be stored/collected in metal containers). When possible, plastic containers are preferred to glass, as they are less likely to break.
  4. Only similar wastes should be collected in the same container. Mixing incompatible types of wastes may cause a chemical reaction or increase disposal costs. It may be necessary to have different waste containers accumulating materials (e.g., one for non-chlorinated flammable solvents, another for acids, etc.).
  5. All chemical/hazardous waste must be collected in tightly closing, leak-proof containers that must be kept closed except when adding waste. Stoppered glassware or beakers are not appropriate waste collection containers. Waste may not be deposited into Contraband Bayou.
  6. Hazardous waste containers must be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” in addition to the specific chemical contents.
    1. The label must list the specific contents (e.g., flammable solvents—acetone, hexane, etc.).
    2. Chemical names must be completely spelled out; abbreviations or chemical structures are not in accordance with regulations.
    3. If empty commercial chemical containers are used to collect waste, the old chemical label must be obliterated and a new label affixed to the container.
    4. Only the safety officer has authorization to remove chemical or hazardous waste after receiving notification from the employee responsible for the MSDS/SDS sheet.
  7. Chemical and waste containers must not be stored where a spill could cause a release to the environment. Containers should not be stored next to sinks or in hoods with sinks. Containers should not be stored on the floor, particularly in rooms with floor drains.

Laboratory Chemical Inventories and Housekeeping

The chemicals in the laboratory should be limited to those actually in use or planned for use during the term of the experiment or instruction. Chemical inventories must be taken each term, and the safety officer must remove all unwanted, unneeded, or duplicate chemicals. Each semester, responsible personnel should monitor all containers for good condition and clear labels, take corrective action if necessary, and update the MSDS/SDS sheet.

Every laboratory/work area is subject to inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or safety officer. To be compliant with EPA rules, the following steps by supervisors of laboratories must ensure the following:

  • Weekly inspections with notification to the safety officer regarding removal of hazardous materials or waste when necessary;
  • Segregation and containment of wastes in proper containers;
  • Storage in separate containers for different types of waste; and
  • Closed containers.

Deans, department heads, and supervisors share responsibility to ensure students and faculty/staff properly dispose of any waste or residuals from their work, including prior to the faculty/staff leaving the University. Deans must supervise and designate personnel to act as the safety officer liaison for handling and removing of chemical or hazardous waste and ensuring safety compliance.

The safety officer will conduct periodic inventories (at least annually) and review compliance for handling and storing chemicals or hazardous waste. The safety officer liaison works with the safety officer regarding inventory and policy requirements.

Removal of Chemical Waste

Chemical or hazardous waste must be removed as soon as possible in accordance with EPA and expectations outlined in this policy. Safety officer liaisons should coordinate disposal to ensure efficient use of supplies.

The safety officer liaison must notify the safety officer to arrange the disposal of chemical or hazardous waste by completing a Chemical/Waste Disposal Form that notes the type and quantity of the waste and the container size. Waste components must be listed on the form along with approximate percentages of each component (e.g., methylene chloride 50%, water 50%). The original Chemical/Waste Disposal Form must be sent to the safety officer, and a copy must be attached to the waste container. If many different wastes are being disposed, a list that includes all the pertinent information from the Chemical/Waste Disposal Form may be submitted.

When it is necessary to dispose of chemicals, all containers must be in good condition, sealed tightly, free of spillage on the outside of the container, and clearly labeled for transport. The safety officer liaison must contact the safety officer to schedule removal/disposal. The safety officer will remove the waste from the lab.

Radioactive Waste

Radioactive waste handling is strictly regulated by the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Contact the safety officer for information about proper collection and disposal procedures.

Storage and Chemical/Hazardous Material Inventory Management

  1. A written current chemical inventory shall be maintained for each campus location that stores/uses hazardous chemicals.
    1. The inventory list should include the location where the material is stored, the material name, manufacturer, CAS#, quantity, major characteristic (e.g., flammable, corrosive, toxic, reactive), and expiration date.
    2. The inventory in each location should be checked on a bi-annual basis. The safety officer will conduct periodic inventory audits.
    3. Copies of the current inventory and location of chemicals should be provided to the safety officer each semester.
  2. Disposal arrangement for outdated chemicals or chemicals approaching end of shelf life should be done at the time of inventory.

Laboratory Supervisors/Safety Officer Liaison Responsibilities

  • Conducts laboratory processes to minimize risk exposure.
  • Ensures lab occupants follow safety procedures and use appropriate equipment.
  • Maintains MSDS/SDS information.
  • Monitors the procurement, use, and disposal of chemicals and hazardous materials.
  • Schedules and oversees waste handling and disposal.
  • Updates annual laboratory chemical inventories as required.

Safety Officer Responsibilities

  • Conducts periodic inventory of laboratory chemicals.
  • Serves as a resource for chemical/hazardous waste handling, storage, and disposal.
  • Removes hazardous waste when notified by safety officer liaison.
  • Maintains contact with EPA and regulatory agencies and updates policies accordingly.

General Safety Guidelines for Faculty/Staff Dealing with Hazardous Materials or Chemicals

  1. Properly label all storage areas and chemicals.
  2. Use fume hoods when possible.
  3. Be familiar with safe procedures regarding materials.
  4. Be informed about the MSDS/SDS available for all chemicals in laboratory areas.
  5. Wear proper eye protection.
  6. Wear protective clothing to protect against spills/splashes.
  7. Wear gloves when appropriate.
  8. Consider other protective equipment (head protection, hearing protection, respiratory, foot protection, etc.).
  9. Wash hands before leaving laboratory.
  10. Keep exposed skin covered.
  11. Avoid leaving long hair loose and wearing loose clothing, especially near flames and operating machinery.
  12. Never use mouth to pipette chemicals.
  13. Follow fire prevention safety (store flammables in appropriate cans; do not store incompatible chemicals together; do not store flammables in standard refrigerators, etc.).
  14. Immediately report any compliance or other issues to the safety office liaison, safety officer, and dean.


This policy is distributed via the Administrative Advisory Council and the University Policies webpage.