Hazardous waste is any product, substance or organism waste that poses a threat to public health or the environment
UBC’s hazardous waste is composed of biological, chemical and radioactive waste. Given the variety, nature and quantity generated, the environmental impact of hazardous waste generated by research laboratories is significant.
Why should labs minimize hazardous waste generation?
- Hazardous waste is dangerous because of its quantity, concentration, physical, chemical, and infectious characteristics.
- UBC currently generates 60-70 tonnes of hazardous lab waste per year and pays over $100,000 for disposal.
- The transportation of hazardous waste to appropriate disposal facilities can pose a significant risk to the environment.
- There is major risk of ecological damage if hazardous waste is incorrectly handled: emission of air contaminants, spills of hazardous materials into the environment and drain discharge of hazardous materials into sanitary or storm sewers.
- Familiarize yourself with the pollution prevention and waste minimization (section A of the Hazardous Waste Manual). Incorporate as many of the applicable Best Management Practices as possible into your lab routine.
- Implement environmental ethics in the laboratory setting by taking responsibility for the by-products of research, and appropriately managing the waste generated.
- Adhere to the waste hierarchy as much as possible
- Start with preventing pollution at the source, which is called source reduction of lab waste
- Minimize hazardous waste generated at the source, using the 4 R’s of waste minimization
- Reuse, recycle, and implement in-lab chemical waste treatment
- Plan your experiments for waste minimization
- Develop a generator specific waste minimization plan
- Minimize other environmental impacts by: reducing air emissions, preventing sanitary and storm water contamination, conserving energy and water and purchasing greener products.
Want to learn more?
- Take a look at two Lunch & Learn presentations entitled Hazardous Waste Minimization and Reduction Strategies
- Stay updated on hazardous waste reduction efforts at UBC
- Familiarize yourself and your lab with the principles and guidelines of the Hazardous Waste Manual
- Check out the Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide and find out more about non-hazardous chemical waste
- Review the EPA Green Chemistry guidelines for hazardous waste management and substitution