Waste / Biological Waste /Hazardous Waste


Waste Disposal | Biological Waste Hazardous Waste | Hazardous Waste Disposal | Universal Waste


Waste Disposal

Assuring that campus generated wastes are disposed of in an environmentally sustainable manner and reducing the size of the waste stream that flows to the landfill are key components of University's Waste Program. ENHS is directly responsible for collecting and disposing of campus generated hazardous waste but is not a recycling facility. Nonetheless, ENHS enthusiastically supports the recycling programs available on campus and in the local community, and is pleased to provide the following information on environmentally responsible methods for disposing of various types of waste material. How do I dispose of?

  • Empty Hazardous Material Containers: Containers may be disposed of according to the instructions on the the 
  • Household Hazardous Waste (Washington County)
    • oil-based paints
    • pesticides
    • solvents
    • aerosol cans
    • household cleaners
    • automotive fluids
    • household electronics: TVs, computers, monitors, etc.
    • cell phones
  • Tires (Washington County)
  • TVs, Computers, Monitors etc. (Washington County)
  • Small Computer Components (Arkansas Union Computer Store)
  • Cell Phones (RBRC)
  • Car batteries (Vaughn Battery)
  • Rechargeable batteries (RBRC)
  • Alkaline batteries (Arkansas Union Computer Store)
  • Mercury containing devices
    • mercury thermometers
    • mercury switches
    • thermostat probes
    • high-intensity discharge lamps
    • pressure gauges
    • flow meters
    • float switches

Following the instructions outlined on the Hazardous Waste Disposal section, log in to the ENHS site and fill out an online "Request for Hazardous Waste Pickup" request.

Biological Waste Management

Every lab is unique and so is the waste generated by each lab. It is the responsibility of the PI to understand how to manage the waste produced in their lab and ensure all lab personnel are trained to deal with waste appropriately before research begins. Managing waste appropriately is a matter of safety and is mandated by the state. Use the following documents to help you understand how to manage your laboratory waste. 

Characterizing and Segregating Biological Waste

If you need further clarification. please contact the BSO, Brook Howard Parker for assistance. 

Biological Waste Disposal

Regulated Biohazardous Waste (Red bag) Procedures 

If  your lab generates red bag waste according to Arkansas Department of Health definitions, please contact the BSO, Brooke Howard-Parker, to set up red bag waste disposal services.

Notice: ENHS will provide you with secondary containment, sticker labels, and appropriate bags for red bag waste disposal. Other than what your lab has been provided though the ENHS office, stocks of red bags should not be kept, purchased, and/or stored by researchers. Red bags and red bag waste should never end up in the dumpsters.

Non-Regulated Biohazardous Waste Procedures 

If your lab generates clear/white bag waste due to the waste being biological in nature but failing to meet any of the Arkansas Department of Health definitions, you are responsible for your own waste disposal in accordance with university procedures.

Notice: ENHS will not provide clear/white bags on an ongoing basis, but can provided a ‘starter kit’ (while supplies last) for those who should move from red bag use to clear/white bag use. Please see Guidelines for Sourcing Clear Bags for Non-Regulated Biohazardous Waste  to order clear/white autoclavable bags. ENHS will supply the Clear Bag Waste labels required for clear/white bag disposal. To request Clear Bag Waste labels email ENHS.

Hazardous Waste Management

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the federal law governing the management and handling of solid and hazardous waste in the United States. RCRA authorizes the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to: regulate the generation, management, treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes, solid wastes and underground storage tanks; and to ensure compliance by enforcing the RCRA statute. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is tasked by EPA to administer the hazardous waste management programs in the state of Arkansas, including container management, waste identification, training, and contingency planning. The University of Arkansas is required by ADEQ to follow the waste management rules laid out by RCRA as outlined below:

Hazardous Waste can be loosely defined as spent material, ready to be thrown away, that can adversely affect human health or the environment.

Characterizing and Segregating Hazardous Waste

It includes materials that are:

  • Ignitable. Liquids or mixtures with a flashpoint of 140º F or lower; includes most non-halogenated solvents (e.g., Methanol, Ethanol, Acetone, Xylene); petroleum-based products (e.g., Gasoline); flammable solids (e.g.,Sodium or Potassium metals, solid Naphthalene, Nitrocellulose).
  • Toxic. A poison, carcinogen, mutagen, or reproductive hazard, or is capable of causing harm to the health or safety of people or the environment. A substance is considered "Toxic" if it contains any of the substances listed in APC&E Regulation 23 § 261.24 Table 1 at concentrations equal to or greater than those listed. Over 800 substances are specifically regulated by the EPA.
  • Corrosive. Liquids with pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5. Liquids with pH above 2 and below 12.5 are not considered corrosive and may be disposed of as normal waste, provided they do not exhibit any other hazardous characteristics.
  • Reactive. Includes materials that are unstable, explosive, shock sensitive, reactive to water or air, or are strong oxidizers.  Organic peroxides, cyanide, and sulfide bearing materials are also reactive and may produce toxic gases when mixed with acids.

Hazardous Waste Storage Rules

  • All hazardous waste containers must be labeled "HAZARDOUS WASTE". Descriptions such as "WASTE" or "CHEMICAL WASTE" are not acceptable.
  • Use chemical names; not symbols, trade names or abbreviations. Be specific; list each substance.
  • Containers should be similar to original, if possible. Five gallon jugs and four liter bottles are acceptable if material added is compatible with any residue in containers. Leave adequate head space for expansion.
  • Containers must have a secure, tight lid in place at all times except when waste material is being added. Never leave a funnel in an unattended container.
  • Store containers away from drains or sinks, in a secure location; NEVER in a hallway. Keep the storage area clean; inspect for spills daily; and clean up any spilled material promptly.
  • Do not accumulate more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste, or more than 1 quart of acutely hazardous waste. Store at or near the point of generation and in a fume hood or safety cabinet, if possible. Avoid storing incompatible materials together; don't mix halogenated with non-halogenated wastes; keep PCBs, dioxin, mercury, and heavy metals separate; do not mix acids and bases or oxidizers and flammables.


Hazardous Waste Disposal

Hazardous Waste Pickup Requests: To schedule a hazardous waste pickup, follow the form instructions. Submit a pickup request.

  • Most of the fields in the header portion of the request are filled in by default with data from your user profile. Correct any entries requiring correction, fill in pickup type, the building and room number and click the "Continue" button, which will bring up a detail entry screen for the selected pickup type.
  • Individually list each chemical, biological or radiological waste item in the detail section of the form. Items will be numbered automatically. You can use the chemical name assistant to help you with chemical item entry. If there are multiple chemicals mixed together in a solution, enter each chemical in the solution with its percentage of total solution. You can use the "%" button to assist in entering percentages. Separate chemicals in a solution with the "&" key. Enter chemical state, type of container, the quantity, and whether or not the chemical requires special handling. Click "Submit" for each line item, then click "Add" if there are additional line items to enter. Click "Finished" when the form is complete.
  • All hazardous waste containers must be appropriately labeled with their contents and starting date of accumulation. For your convenience, EH&S provides adhesive labels. All waste containers must be labeled and must be kept completely closed at all times, except when adding waste. Never leave a container open, or leave a funnel in a container.
  • All items for disposal must be entered in the "Request for Pickup" form. All items for pickup must be labeled as "HAZARDOUS WASTE", and contents must be listed. Items that have not been entered on the "Pickup Request", or are not correctly labeled will not be picked up!!
  • View up-to-date instructions for storing and disposing of hazardous waste. Feel free to call Environmental Health and Safety at 575-5448 with questions or to request assistance.

Leaving hazardous materials outside the 90 day storage site without notification or authorization is DANGEROUS and ILLEGAL! If you have material to dispose of, and you are unsure of the procedures to follow, call EH&S at 575-5448.

Empty Hazardous Waste Container Disposal: Containers may be disposed of according to these guidelines, if and only if they are completely empty. Otherwise, they must be treated and disposed of as hazardous waste. Please remember that although chemical residues may be non-hazardous by themselves, there is a possibility that they can mix with incompatible residues in a trash can or dumpster and cause a fire. In addition, sealed containers may become pressurized during compaction, which could result in residues spraying from the truck onto workers. A container is considered empty when the following conditions are met:

  • Liquid hazardous material containers:
    • No liquid can drain from the container when it is tilted in any direction.
    • There is no hazardous material remaining that can feasibly be removed.
    • The walls have no encrusted material on them.
  • Solid or non-pourable hazardous material containers (powders, sludge, grease, and thick resins):
    • The interior surface is scraped clean, with no residual material.
  • Aerosol containers:
    • The contents and pressure are completely dispensed.
    • The spray mechanism is in place and functional.

Directions: Check to see if the material previously contained or any of its ingredients is on the list of List of Acutely Hazardous Wastes or "P List" and if the MSDS sheet for the previously contained chemical has instructions for disposing of the empty container. If the material or any of its ingredients appear on the "P List", or the MSDS specifies triple rinsing the empty container, you can either:

  • Treat and dispose of the empty container as hazardous waste, or
  • Triple rinse the container with an appropriate solvent, then collect and dispose of the rinsate as hazardous waste.

If none of the component materials appears on the P List and the MSDS does not contain special instructions for disposing of the empty container, you can either:

  • Rinse the container once with approximately 50 ml of water (or an appropriate solvent for substances not miscible in water) and collect the rinsate in a container suitable for disposal as hazardous waste, or
  • Remove the cap from the container and place both in the fume hood to dry.
  • For volatile organic solvents (e.g. acetone, ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethyl ether, hexane, methanol, methylene chloride, petroleum ether, toluene, xylene, etc.) the emptied container can be air-dried in a ventilated area such as a chemical fume hood without triple rinsing.

Deface or remove the label of the empty container. Remove any cap that may cause the container to become pressurized when compacting. Dispose of the container in the dumpster. Do not throw the containers in regular trash bins.

If the container does not qualify as empty and cannot be emptied into a compatible hazardous waste receptacle, then the container and its contents must be labeled and treated as hazardous waste.


Universal Waste

Section 273 of Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Regulation 23 (PDF File 3.5MB), adopted in December, 1995, addresses a class of wastes grouped under the term "universal wastes". Universal wastes are a specified set of widely distributed hazardous wastes for which EPA and ADEQ have approved less stringent handling and management standards provided that these wastes are ultimately forwarded to an appropriate recycling or reclamation center, and are recycled or reclaimed. Wastes classified as universal wastes include:

  • Spent batteries such as nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd, or NiCad) and small sealed lead-acid batteries (found in many common items such as electronic equipment, portable telephones, portable computers, and emergency lighting). Larger lead-acid batteries are managed under the provisions of Regulation 23 §266, Subsection G.
  • Agricultural pesticides and herbicides that have been recalled or banned from use, are obsolete, have become damaged, or which are no longer needed due to changes in cropping patterns or other factors.
  • Mercury-containing devices that exhibit a characteristic of a hazardous waste.
  • Spent or waste lamps which exhibit a characteristic of a hazardous waste.
  • Consumer electronic items (such as any intact or broken cathode ray tube, (e.g., television, computer monitor, or other cathode ray tube monitor or display device), personal computer or computer component, audio and/or stereo player, videocassette recorder/player, digital videodisk (DVD) recorder/player, video camera, telephone, facsimile or copying machine, cellular telephone, wireless paging device, or video game console) which exhibit a characteristic of a hazardous waste.

How can I dispose of universal wastes?

There are recycling options available for most universal wastes generated on campus. Remember, however, that universal wastes are hazardous. If you can not find a suitable recycle solution, universal waste must be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of at a suitable hazardous waste disposal facility.