University faculty, staff and students must properly manage or dispose of all waste materials in accordance with university, local, state and federal policies and regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) closely scrutinize academic institutions and personnel. Improper disposal of waste can result in citations and fines for the university and fines and possible imprisonment for the individual.

All this talk of fines is unnecessary, however, because UVA maintains a user-friendly waste disposal program. Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) answers waste collection questions and picks up your chemical waste upon request, free-of-charge. Take the time to follow the simple guidelines below, and call EHS if you have any questions.

Waste pickup & new container request - online form Log-in

Do not put hazardous waste down the sink or in the trash. If you are not sure if a chemical is hazardous, call EHS.

Containers for Hazardous Chemical Waste

EHS provides the following containers for chemical waste collection, activities requiring special containers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

DO NOT FILL CONTAINERS TO THE TOP. Fill plastic carboys ONLY to the fill line. Leave about 2 inches at the top of all other containers. All waste must reside in closed, non-leaking containers. Do not use flasks or test tubes with stoppers, beakers with parafilm, or bottles with ground glass stoppers. The outside of the waste container must be reasonably clean. Do not put liquids in containers designed for solids. They leak!

All chemical waste containers must remain CLOSED (capped) except when waste is being added—this is a regulatory requirement. Additionally, when chemical waste containers are left uncapped, laboratory personnel are at the risk of chemical exposure due to inhalation of chemical vapors.

It is very important that the waste container is made of a material that is compatible with the waste to be put in it. Do not put acidic or basic waste (pH <3 or >9) in metal cans. Metal cans corrode in a very short time.

4 liter (~1 gallon) plastic bottle

5 gallon plastic carboy

small bucket
Liquid waste should NEVER be put in this type of container.

5 gallon bucket used for solid and gel waste.
Liquid waste should NEVER be put in this type of container.

Ethidium Bromide Contaminated Gels

Ethidium Bromide Contaminated Gels should be put in a 5-gallon plastic bucket, supplied by EHS.

Chemical Waste Labeling and Marking

Each waste container MUST be labeled with a HAZARDOUS WASTE STICKER (see image below), issued by EHS. Any containers issued by our office will already contain this sticker. If you plan to use your own bottles as waste receptacles, you can receive these stickers by contacting EHS.

This label must be filled out by checking what hazard the material in the container presents (flammable, toxic, corrosive, compressed gas, oxidizer) AND a filling in a name or description of the contents (e.g. acetone, methanol 50%/hexane 50%, flammable solvent mixture) in the "constituent" section.

In addition to waste stickers, all waste containers MUST have a WASTE DISPOSAL LABEL (see image below), affixed to it prior to pick up. This label is issued by EHS. This includes chemicals still in their original containers. Waste will not be picked up if it is not labeled properly. If you need new labels, let us know and we will deliver them. The label should be affixed to the waste container by a single piece of tape across the top of the label.

WASTE DISPOSAL LABELS must be filled out completely. This includes:
  • Date, Lab Director (P.I.), Department, Name of the person filling out the label, Building, Room Number, Phone Number.
  • The names of all the constituent contents of the container. Do not use abbreviations, chemical formulas or chemical diagrams.
  • The corresponding percentages of these constituents.
  • The total quantity of material in the container.
  • pH (for liquids)
  • IMPORTANT: Disposal companies will not accept unknown chemicals. You must make every possible effort to accurately describe the contents of each container. This means tracking down and questioning previous lab occupants if necessary.

Waste Segregation

In order to minimize the chances of incompatible materials being mixed together and to keep disposal costs for the university lower we ask that you keep certain types of chemicals separated at the time of collection.

Keep the following groups to themselves whenever possible:

Non-halogenated organic solvents, <5% water
Non-halogenated organic solvents, >5% water
Halogenated solvents (% water unimportant)
Solutions containing compounds of the following metals: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, silver and selenium.
Any solution containing mercury or its compounds. (Mercury/mercury compounds should be kept separate from any liquid whenever possible.)
Acids, organic
Acids, mineral
Bases, organic
Bases, mineral
Acyl Halides (e.g. acetyl chloride, thionyl chloride, benzoyl chloride)
Organic peroxides
Inorganic Oxidizers
Photographic fixer
Photographic developer
Photographic stop bath
Water-reactive compounds (e.g. sodium, butyllithium, grignard reagents)
Formaldehyde Solutions
Do not put acidic or basic waste (pH <3 or >9) in metal cans. Metal cans corrode in a very short time. Keep acids and bases separate from hydrocarbons and ethers.
When possible, keep all carcinogens/mutagens/teratogens separate from other waste. Keep aqueous wastes separate from organic solvents. Keep halogenated solvents and wastes separate from non-halogenated solvents.
Batteries - UVA Recycling will accept all batteries, with the exception of lithium cell (shown above) batteries. Lithium cell batteries can be given to EHS for disposal.
Lamps/Bulbs - Fluorescent lamps and high intensity discharge bulbs contain mercury and must be recycled. Facilities Management should handle any bulbs from the lighting systems of buildings as part of general maintenance. Smaller bulbs from laboratory equipment can be given to EHS for disposal.

Hazardous Waste Collection Guidelines for persons generating/collecting Hazardous (Chemical) Waste in NON-laboratory areas can be found here.

Chemically contaminated needles should be placed in Sharps-a-Gator boxes, and will be disposed of by EHS.

Broken Glassware, Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG)

If they DO NOT contain or ARE NOT contaminated with Radioactive Material (any amount), Chemicals (more than a trace amount) or Biohazardous Material (any amount), then these waste materials are Waste Laboratory Glassware (WLG).
Waste Laboratory Glassware:
Place into any ordinary cardboard box lined with a regular trash bag
Once full, close the bag by twisting (or use twist tie) and tape box closed
Apply a WLG label (see photo below) to the box top
These waste materials will be treated as regular trash and should be carried directly to the trash receptacle or dumpster outside of your building
Call EHS at 434-982-4911 for free WLG labels or use this online form to order labels Log-in

Empty Containers

Empty Container Disposal: We do not pick up empty chemical reagent bottles, and neither does UVA Recycling. Triple rinse empty chemical bottles, collect the rinsate as waste, deface the chemical label, and then discard bottles in the trash or reuse for waste collection.

Potential Accidents

Ethers tend to form extremely explosive compounds over time. Therefore, date all ether cans. Do not keep an open ether can for more than 1 month or an unopened can for more than 12 months. If you have an old ether can, label as waste and call EHS for pick up.

Do not attempt to open any bottles of DRY picric acid. This is an extreme explosion hazard!!! Any dry bottles of picric acid should be labeled as waste and picked up by EHS staff.

How to Request a Chemical Waste Pick-up

Waste pickup & new container request - online form Log-in


Call EHS at 434-982-4911 to schedule a waste pickup.

Chemical waste will be picked up within three working days from the date it was requested to be picked up.

Special Materials Handling Facility
515 Edgemont Road
P.O. Box 400322
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4322
PHONE 434.982.4911
FAX 434.982.4915
One Morton Drive
Suite 320
P.O. Box 400333
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4333
FAX 434.243.1735
© 2018 By The Rector And Visitors Of The University Of Virginia