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Hazardous Waste

Western Carolina campus


As a generator of small amounts of Hazardous Waste the University is required to comply with Federal Standards promulgated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  These regulations cover the storage, handling, and documentation of transfer of hazardous waste from the point of generation to final disposal.


Hazardous waste is a solid material, chemical, fuel or compressed gas which is harmful to human health or the environment.  The material is no longer considered useful and is intended to be discarded.  It may be identified by name in chemical lists in the Federal Code, 40 Part 261, or if not specifically listed, by the characteristic of the waste material.  Essentially, if the waste material is ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic it is subject to hazardous waste regulation.  A second more limited category of hazardous waste is acutely hazardous waste which are all listed materials.

Waste Minimization

The most significant impact individual departments can have on reducing the cost of hazardous waste disposal is to decrease the volume of waste required to be handled.  Faculty and supervisors are encouraged to consider ways of reducing the volume of waste by means of the following:

  • Redesign of experiments and work processes to decrease the volume of waste generated.
  • Redesign of experiments to subsititute non hazardous or less hazardous materials when possible.
  • Purchase only the quantity of materials necessary and avoid bulk purchasing as this often results in waste disposal for unused materials.
  • Efforts should be made to decontaminate, detoxify, neutralize, or otherwise render the waste non-hazardous as a final step in the procedure by the generating area. 
  • Recycle materials for energy recovery or other uses.
  • Exchange as a useful material for other industry or laboratories.
  • Segregate different waste materials whenever possible (i.e. halogenated solvents separate from non halogenated solvents).
  • Keep recyclable materials separate from other waste streams.  
  • Packaged for pick-up and incineration by a licensed hazardous waste firm.

Hazard Waste Disposal

It is unlawful to discharge any chemical product or oil into storm sewers, creeks or on the ground, or to discharge hazardous chemicals such as strong corrosives, toxics, reactives, flammables such as solvents, oils, varnishes, kerosene, or gasoline, and insecticides etc. into the sanitary sewer.  In addition, hazardous chemicals should not be placed in the ordinary trash for pick-up by Facilities Management. 

Hazardous Waste is collected for pick-up and incineration by a licensed hazardous waste firm.  An essential step in the processing of hazardous waste materials is to develop and maintain an inventory list of stored hazardous waste materials. This list must include the chemical identity, quantity, container type and originator for each substance.  Also, the chemical identity and originator must be affixed to each container.  Without this information the material cannot be picked-up for disposal.

Each inventory list should be forwarded to the Safety Office so that the current aggregate amount and type of stored waste can be determined for the University and commercial pick-up can be arranged when necessary.

Procedures for Specific Hazardous Waste Streams

A waste stream generated from a laboratory procedure or shop process should not be combined with other chemical wastes.  The fewer the number of chemicals associated with a waste, the more economical is the disposal method for that waste.  If this is not practical, the Safety Office should be consulted about which wastes can be combined safely.  Campus generators should follow the Waste Management Best Practices to ensure regulatory compliance and safe operating conditions.    

Landfill Restrictions

Some common items which are not ordinarily thought of as harmful when handled are included as hazardous waste because they “leach” small quantities of toxic material when disposed of in a landfill for long periods of time.  These items must not be placed in the ordinary trash, instead they must be collected for recycling.  Facilities Management Recycling or Surplus property collects these items:

  • Batteries
  • Circuit Boards
  • Computers and Monitors
  • Fluorescent Lights (except “green” tip)
  • Electronic Equipment
  • Scrap Metal
  • Thermostats
  • Lamps (Hid, mercury vapor, sodium, metal halide)
  • Articles Coated with Lead Base Paint 
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