Properly separating chemical waste is one of those things keep you out of jail or the hospital. There’s a reason why I list in as one of the four-and-one pillars of lab safety.
The main danger from waste is mixing incompatible wastes. Mixing bleach and ammonia famously gives off chlorine gas. Others lead to explosions.
This is why I require everyone to identify the exact nature of the waste their experiments will produce. As in, the chemical names, as well as a detailed description of chemical incompatibilities, and which chemical category it falls into.
In our lab we generate the following waste categories:
- Acid waste
- Alkaline waste
- Organic waste, halogenated
- Organic waste, non-halogenated
- Oil waste
Waste is deposited in 10L carboys (we used to use 50L carboys, but they fill too slowly and hence pose a risk). Just to make sure that people have the best information they can get for their waste, I make sure to list the different chemicals on the waste label. Here’s an example of the waste labels from our labs. Feel free to copy if if you’d like.