Hazardous Waste

All laboratory personnel must ensure that hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are properly disposed.  Waste disposal is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

Waste Management solutions include pollution prevention; toxics use reduction; reuse or redistribution of unwanted materials; treatment or recycling of materials; and disposal. Contact the EH&S Professional for questions related to waste disposal.

Chemical Waste

The generation, collection and storage of chemical waste must be considered when planning experiments. Collecting, storing and disposing of chemical waste can be dangerous and expensive. Waste generators must be trained on how to safely collect and dispose of chemical waste.

Chemical Waste Accumulation

All chemical waste in the labs must be collected in designated Satellite Accumulation Areas (SAAs). There are federal and state regulations that govern the collection and storage of these materials. SAA compliance is the responsibility of the chemical waste generator. The following are collection and labeling requirements for chemical waste.

  1. The SAA must be under the control of the individual directly responsible for the process that generates the waste.
  2. The SAA must be at or near the point of generation.
  3. Only one container per waste stream may be in use at any one time.
  4. Maximum capacity of hazardous waste shall not exceed 55 gallons per SAA.
  5. When the container is filled or exceeds the storage limits, it must be dated and removed within 3 days (contact the EH&S Office for waste removal).
  6. Each container shall be marked with the following:
  • The words “Hazardous Waste”
  • The full chemical names (e.g., acetone, toluene), NO abbreviations.
  • The hazard box associated with the waste stream must be checked (e.g.,ignitable, toxic, corrosive, reactive).
  1. Containers must be in good condition. (Free of rust and/or structural damage).
  2. Containers must be compatible with waste inside.
  3. Containers must be closed during storage.
  4. Hazardous waste must be kept separate from stock chemicals.
  5. Containers of incompatible waste must be separated by means of berm, wall, or other device.

Hazardous waste labels can be obtained from the EH&S Office.

Chemical Discharge to sanitary sewer

Disposal of hazardous chemicals to the sanitary sewer is prohibited unless steps are taken to render the material non-hazardous prior to release.  All releases into the Metropolitan Sewerage District’s (MSD) of Buncombe County’s public treatment works must meet all guidelines given in the Sewer Use Ordinance.

Wastes excluded from entry into the sewer system include, but are not limited to:

  • Any wastewater having a temperature in excess of 60 C (140 F).
  • Any waste containing more than 50 mg/l of fat, oil, grease or other substance that will solidify or become viscous at temperatures between 0 C (32 F) and 60 C (140 F).
  • Wastewater containing floatable oils, grease, or fat.
  • Any corrosive material which has a pH value below 6.0 or above 10.0.

Specific Prohibited Waste:

  • Substances which constitute explosive atmospheres: gasoline, kerosene, naphtha, benzene, fuel/motor oil, mineral spirits, toluene, xylene, ethers, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, peroxides, chlorates, perchlorates, bromates, carbides and hydrides.
  • Substances which could obstruct flow:  eggshells, ashes, cinders, ceramic waste, sand, mud, straw, shavings, thread, glass, rags, metal, feathers, bones, tar, plastics or wood.
  • Any noxious or malodorous solids, liquids, or gases which either singly or by interaction with other waste, are capable of creating a public nuisance or hazard to life or may be sufficient to prevent entry into a sewer for maintenance and repair.

Acceptable Chemicals for Drain Disposal:

  • Aqueous solutions such as salts and buffer solutions within a pH range of 6-10.
  • Chemicals that are water soluble and non-hazardous by way of definition.
    • Naturally occurring Amino Acids and Salts
    • Enzymes
    • Sugars
    • Proteins
    • Citric acid and its Na, K, Mg, Ca, and Ammonium Salts
    • Lactic acid and its Na, K, Mg, Ca and Ammonium Slats
  • Acids and bases that have been neutralized and fall within the 6-10 pH range
  • Biological liquids that have been treated with disinfectant or autoclaved.
  • Photographic chemicals
    • Developer solutions that DO NOT contain Hydroquinone or heavy metals
    • Stop Baths
  • Mop Water

Biological Waste

Examples of items that are considered to be biohazardous waste include cultures of infectious microorganisms; human blood, body fluids, or tissues; carcasses, body parts, or fluids from infected laboratory animals; or materials that contain or may have been contaminated with any of the above. All potentially infectious waste generated in laboratories must be segregated from other refuse and placed into waste containers that are impervious to moisture, of sufficient strength and thickness to prevent expulsion, secured to prevent leakage or expulsion, and labeled with the biohazard symbol.

Infectious waste is regulated by state and local regulations. The key requirements with regard to infectious waste are proper labeling with subsequent disposal in a safe manner.


All potentially contaminated sharps must be placed in containers that are leak proof, rigid, and puncture resistant (e.g., plastic “sharps containers”), in addition to meeting the above criteria for infectious waste containers.

Free flowing liquid waste may be chemically decontaminated (e.g. with a freshly prepared 1:10 dilution of household bleach with a 20 minute contact time) and then provided they contain no other hazardous chemicals or materials may be discharged into the sanitary sewer system.

Solids biohazardous waste is collected in white polypropylene containers lined with red bags or puncture resistant (cardboard boxes) lied with red bags for pipettes. The outer container is labeled with the biohazard symbol. The containers should be closed when not in use.  Bags should be autoclaved before disposal.

Autoclave Procedure

Autoclave Testing Log for Biohazard Waste

When waste contains a combination of a biohazard and another hazard, such as radiation or chemical waste, the usual practice is to decontaminate the biohazard and then treat the waste as only a chemical or radioactive waste. Contact UNC Asheville’s EH&S Professional for guidance with mixed chemical or radioactive wastes.

Radiation Waste

The Radiation Protection Section of the NC Department of Health and Human Services governs the disposal of radioactive material and radiation producing machines.

Contact the University’s EH&S Professional/Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) for disposal of all radiation sources and radiation producing machines.

Specific Waste Disposal

Properly managing wastes generated at UNC Asheville is essential.  Mishandling unwanted material can damage the environment and/or be hazardous to the people who handle the material downstream.

Empty Chemical Container Disposal

To discard empty chemical containers, rinse three times, (save the rinsate as hazardous waste), remove the cap, and deface the label. Place glass bottles into a labeled “Physically Hazardous” box for disposal. Rinsed, defaced plastic bottles and 5 gallon metal containers can be recycled. All Chemical bottles may be reused after a thorough rinsing. Remember to completely deface the label once a bottle is empty.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of empty 5 gallon metal containers.

Sharps Contaminated With Hazardous Chemicals

Syringes, metal sharps and glass objects contaminated by hazardous chemicals must be placed in an impervious container and labeled as a chemical hazardous waste in a Satellite Accumulation Area. Containers are provided by the EH&S Professional.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of full sharps containers.

Aerosol Cans

Most aerosols have a flammable or chlorinated solvent propellant.  Empty, partially-full, or unused cans must be collected as waste.  Empty cans will be punctured to remove residues and then the can will be disposed of as scrap metal.  Partially-full and unused cans will be treated as hazardous waste.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of aerosol cans.


Battery collection buckets are located throughout University Buildings for the collection of expired university batteries. The following batteries contain regulated hazardous materials and are prohibited from disposal in the general trash.  Lithium, Nickel/Metal Hydride, mercury, silver oxide, nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion, and lead acid batteries. Lead acid batteries are to be placed right side up next to the battery collection bucket. To prevent short-circuits and potential fire hazard during storage and transport, battery terminals must be taped over with clear tape prior to placing the battery into a recycling receptacle. Alkaline batteries are also recycled at the University. Submit a Request For Services form to have Facilities Management pick up battery buckets when full.

Quick Guide to Battery Recycling

Fluorescent Lightbulbs

Flourescent lightbulbs contain small amounts of mercury.  These lightbulbs are recycled when they are burned out.

Contact Campus Operations to request pick up of fluorescent lightbulbs.

Broken Fluorescent lightbulbs

Broken fluorescent lightbulbs are treated as hazardous waste.  Collect small amounts of broken fluorescent lightbulbs in a ziploc bag and label as hazardous waste.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of broken fluorescent lightbulbs.

Broken Bulb Clean Up Procedure

Oils and Oily Debris

Pump oils used in laboratory equipment and any oily debris from cleanup are treated as hazardous waste.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of laboratory oils and oily debris.

Latex Paint

Dried latex paints can be disposed of in the trash.  Dry latex paints by removing lids and setting them aside until they are dry.  Kitty litter can be mixed in with the paint to aid in drying.  Keep latex paints meant for drying out of the weather.

Oil Based Paint

Oil based paints and paint related materials such as epoxy and glues are collected as hazardous waste.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of oil based paints and related material.

Propane Canisters

Propane canisters are managed as hazardous waste.  Empty propane canisters are devalved and are disposed of as scrap metal.

Contact the EH&S Professional to dispose of all propane canisters.