If you manage or work in a hospital, university, laboratory, or any manufacturing industry that uses small containers of chemicals and other potentially hazardous materials (thinners, solvents, paints, inks, etc.), it’s extremely important that you store, package, ship, and dispose of all that waste material properly. As such, a lab pack is something you and your employees should be familiar with—whether you undertake the process yourself or hire out the service to a qualified, proper waste management company.

Important Detailed Information About Lab Packs

What Is a Lab Pack, and What Items Go into It?

This kind of pack involves the proper packaging of expired, damaged, or out-of-date chemicals. These chemicals are in smaller amounts and smaller containers, and then they are placed in larger containers for proper shipping and disposal.

Lab pack waste are particularly common for universities or other institutions with working laboratories.

Properly Identify Chemicals That Are Going into the Pack

Before anything can even start to be packaged and containerized, the very first step is for a qualified individual to create an inventory of every expired, damaged, or out-of-date chemical to be disposed of. This inventory should thoroughly and accurately detail everything that’s going into the pack in order to properly dispose of chemicals that aren’t needed anymore by the lab.

Pack by Type of Waste

In this kind of a pack, small vials and containers (anywhere from one-quarter ounce to gallon jugs) are packed together into larger containers. After the inventory is complete, everything within a large container must be packed according to the “type” of waste.

For example, flammable items should be packed with other flammable items. Corrosive waste should be packed with similar corrosive waste. This is preferential to mixing the flammable, corrosive, and reactive materials within one large container.

The size of that final large container varies according to the specifics of what needs to be disposed of. It can be as a small as a five-gallon jug or as large as a cubic yard box (or even multiple cubic yard boxes). It just depends on what the laboratory needs to process and clear out for that particular pickup.

Why Is Segregation of Waste Important?

Segregating the waste into categories such as flammable and corrosive is perhaps the most essential part of the entire process. Chemicals can react in very dangerous ways when combined with other chemicals, and if they are packed together and the vials happen to break within the large container, those reactions could obviously pose serious problems.

That’s why it’s imperative the packer is extremely well qualified and knows exactly how those chemicals are going to react if mixed. Should anything break during packing or transport, all waste material placed in a large drum together must be innocuous if in contact. (As an added precaution in case of breaks, an absorbent material is placed within the large drum along with all the small vials. This ensures you properly transport chemicals in the safest way.)

If you don’t have the high level of expertise necessary to safely pack these chemicals, you can work with a waste management company that has the contacts and resources of qualified chemical engineers to go through this process.

What Is Turnkey Service and Why Is It the Best Option?

In this particular context, turnkey service means the waste management company will go in and handle every aspect of properly disposing of your waste from the beginning step all the way through to the end. The waste management company will identify what you have, list it out, properly pack it, properly ship it, and correctly fill out all relevant paperwork. In a turnkey service, the company will also supply all necessary containers as well as label them properly for transport.

The alternative is a pack on paper where a third-party chemist will analyze your list of every chemical and tell you how to safely package everything. In this system, you’re actually doing the packing yourself, though.

If possible, your company should give preference to the turnkey service. The consequences for improperly doing a pack are potentially dire, and you want to leave something that potentially dangerous to highly trained professionals.

For more information about how laboratories can safely dispose of their expired chemicals, please contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services a full service medical and environmental waste management company.