If you don't separate your waste, you end up in the dump

Waste separation

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.

You can see at a glance what goes in here
Non-halogenated waste labels


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