If your college or university has a laboratory, maintenance department, or both, it's very likely you have hazardous materials that need to be stored, packaged, shipped, and disposed of properly. In that case, it's imperative you have the proper hazardous waste management plan in place. This will help ensure the safety of your employees and the safety of anyone or anything that comes in contact with your waste. As added incentive, it will also help your college avoid fines for improper hazardous waste disposal.

Every College Needs Comprehensive Waste Management Plans

Lab Packs: What They Are, and Why You Need Them

A lab pack is the packaging of any expired, damaged, or out-of-date chemicals in small containers into large containers for safe and proper transport and disposal.

The essential steps of any proper pack include the following:

  1. Accurately identify any and all chemicals that will be contained within the lab pack.
  2. Pack waste items by type. All flammable waste must go with other flammable waste. The same goes for corrosive waste as well as reactive waste.
  3. Place your many small vials in a large container along with absorbent material (in case of breakage).

Having a qualified individual perform every step of this process is essential. If chemicals are misidentified or packed incorrectly, the reactions between the disparate chemicals could cause fires, toxic fumes, explosions, or any number of other extraordinarily unsafe reactions.

Your College's Hazardous Waste Management Plan

Outside of lab packs, your university also needs a well-thought-out, comprehensive hazardous waste management plan. This covers a multitude of products that cannot go in the standard trash:

  • Paints.
  • Solvents.
  • Thinners.
  • Waste oils.
  • Groundskeeping chemicals.
  • Universal waste (batteries, lightbulbs, and so on).

In a college, these kinds of items are most commonly found in the maintenance department. Be aware that many of these items are deemed hazardous, and they must be properly disposed of—for safety reasons and to save you from having to shoulder heavy fines. No college's waste disposal plan is complete if it doesn't properly account for these items.

Fines for Hazardous Waste Violations Have Recently Increased

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently increased their fines for noncompliance with environmental laws or EPA regulations. In many cases, the fines nearly doubled.

If your college is not correctly conducting lab packs or is committing any violation of hazardous waste disposal guidelines, you're not only putting the safety of your employees who are handling the hazardous material at risk, but you're also going to be paying a lot more for those mistakes if you're caught.

How Hazardous Waste Disposal Companies Can Help

When it comes to hazardous and dangerous waste streams, you never want to take any chances. If you're at all confused or unsure about the laws and regulations surrounding these waste types, consider reaching out to a local hazardous waste disposal company.

Many of them offer turnkey services, meaning the company will arrange for a chemist to go in and inventory the chemicals, and then that same company will do the actual packaging and transporting. (Alternately, if you have a chemist already available in the lab, he or she can provide a spreadsheet of the chemicals for packaging and their respective containers.) The turnkey fee includes all relevant aspects of disposal: packing, labor, supplies, packing materials, paperwork, and everything else.

In addition to the convenience of this service, you also know you're working with professionals. That offers confidence that you're being as safe as possible and doing everything in your power to comply with the law—and, therefore, avoid hefty fines.

For more information about safe, legal, and cost-effective university waste management, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta company.