All labs generate waste but not all waste can be thrown in the regular garbage. Garbage that can pose a threat to the environment or to the community is deemed as hazardous waste. Risk Management Services coordinates the disposal of hazardous waste materials through the Environmental Services Facility (ESF) located on South Campus. The facility safely manages hazardous waste in accordance with relevant regulations. At ESF, laboratory wastes and hazardous materials generated by the University through research, academic and operational activities are consolidated, recycled, re-used, neutralized and/or disposed. There is a list of hazardous waste disposal procedures available online which includes biological, chemical, and other waste such as batteries, glass, and propane and butane gas cylinders.
A useful sheet to guide researchers on how to properly dispose of hazardous waste can be downloaded as a PDF or seeing as an image. Please make sure that your hazardous wastes are properly packaged, tagged, and do not exceed 10kgs otherwise the Environmental Services Facility (ESF) will not pick up the hazardous waste.
Common mistakes when hazardous waste is left for the ESF:
- Leaking/wet waste container: please make sure that if your waste is leaking or wet that you tighten your containers and double bag your waste. The ESF will not take any hazardous waste that is poorly packaged and leaking. This is particularly true for waste that have been autoclaved.
- Improper labeling: all hazardous waste set for disposal must be properly tagged. This means affixing the proper waste disposal tag along with the description of the waste on the tag AND the barcode sticker attached to the tag.
- Too heavy: please make sure that all hazardous waste that is to be picked up by the ESF MUST be no heavier than 10kgs otherwise they will not pick up your waste. If there’s more than 10kgs, then dividing the waste into multiple bags or boxes is required.
- Improper storage of waste: please make sure you use the correct waste storage for the type of hazardous waste. For example, for all biological waste such as animal carcass, you must use thick black plastic bags and not clear bags. Another example is for sharps disposal. Please only use the yellow or red autoclavable sharps containers and do not use random containers to hold your sharps waste such as a water bottle.
For solid and liquid chemical wastes, solvents, oils, non-regulated contaminated solids, and biological waste UBC has implemented a serialized, colour-coded, tag system that identifies the type of waste and allows for specific waste package or container tracking. The barcode sticker is a self-adhesive label that must be affixed to the UBC Hazardous Waste Tags on each container of waste sent to Environmental Services Facility (ESF). The barcode allows ESF to identify the Hazardous Waste Generators for waste tracking and legal purposes. Without the barcode sticker affixed to the tag, ESF may refuse collection and disposal of hazardous waste. In order to register as a UBC Hazardous Waste Generator and receive barcode stickers, tags, or waste containers, contact an ESF Technician at 604-827-5389.
The Biological Sciences and Biodiversity Researcher Centre building's designated area for chemical waste pick-up is located in the Biodiversity Research Centre building room number 153. To gain access, please contact the Shipping/Receiving personnel in room 140 of the Biodiversity Researcher Centre.
How to proceed: Chemical waste comprises of unused chemicals (toxic, corrosive, flammable, oxidizing and reactive), in their original containers or mixtures of chemicals and byproducts generated from experiments. Disposal requirements are:
- Chemical waste generated at UBC must go through an online approval process, using the Chemical Waste Inventory System (CWIS).
- All hazardous waste generators must complete the Chemical Safety Training before using the CWIS
- Create a CWIS user account if you are the person designated to dispose of waste in your lab. RMS recommends 1-2 users per lab, not including the PI
- Dispose of non-hazardous chemicals via the normal trash or sewer; check if your chemicals are included in the lists below
- Follow the chemical waste disposal procedure
- Enter all hazardous chemicals into the online CWIS; provide detailed, accurate and complete chemical waste information
- Wait for approval and then package waste according to instructions (Point Grey campus only)
- Take approved and properly packed waste to the designated waste accumulation areas in your building or department
Unacceptable waste streams
- Unknown chemicals, explosives & potentially explosive materials, compressed gas cylinders & lecture bottles of hazardous gases are not acceptable by the Environmental Services Facility
- The cost of waste removal and disposal by external contractor is the generators’ and/or their department’s responsibility
- Please contact Valeriy Kichenko to make special arrangements for direct pick-up
Some chemicals can be safely disposed of down the drain or in normal garbage bins. When safe and allowed by regulation, disposal of non-hazardous laboratory waste via the normal trash or sewer can substantially reduce disposal costs. This kind of lab waste segregation makes economic and environmental sense.
Non-hazardous wastes often mistakenly considered hazardous include certain salts (e.g., potassium chloride and sodium carbonate), many natural products (e.g., sugars and amino acids), and inert materials (e.g., non-contaminated chromatography resins and gels).
Waste that is not regulated because it does not exhibit any of the hazardous characteristics (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) as defined by BC Hazardous Waste Regulations, 2009, and is not restricted or prohibited by the Metro Vancouver Sewer Use Bylaw 299 or Metro Vancouver Landfill Banned & Prohibited Materials can be disposed of via the normal trash or sewer with caution. Non-contaminated materials which are not controlled by WHMIS or other regulations, and with NFPA Regulations designation and in all related hazards of 0 or 1 can be disposed of safely via the normal trash or sewer.
Safe to dispose
The Biological Sciences and Biodiversity Researcher Centre building's designated area for sharps waste pick-up is located in the Biodiversity Research Centre building room number 153. To gain access, please contact the Shipping/Receiving personnel in room 140 of the Biodiversity Researcher Centre.
How to proceed: All sharps waste must be disposed of in PROPER sharps waste containers and NOT in any random container such as a small box, jar, or beaker. It is the responsibility if the researcher to provide their own sharps waste container. Standard operating procedure for sharps waste disposal can be found HERE. Once the sharps waste container is full, close the lid to the box so that it locks and affix the red biological waste disposal tag as well as your lab’s waste barcode sticker and check off ‘sharps’ on the tag. The packed sharps waste can be stored in the chemical/biological waste storage room for pickup.
Check your lab for biological waste tags and generator barcode stickers. If you need more, please contact an ESF Technician at 604-827-5389.
The Biological Sciences and Biodiversity Researcher Centre building's designated area for glass waste pick-up is located in the Biodiversity Research Centre building room number 152.
How to proceed: standard operating procedure for glass waste disposal can be found HERE.
In most labs there are already glass waste containers which are typically either all metal or all plastic 5 gallon pails lined with a clear thick bag. These glass waste containers are ONLY meant for cleaned glass waste. Please do not dispose of non-glass or contaminated waste in these pails. When the glass waste pails are ¾ full, the clear bag can be tied or taped closed and can be brought to the designated glass waste pickup area of your building. DO NOT try to make more space in the glass waste pail by pushing down on the glass waste to compact it as it is dangerous. Upon dropping off the filled pails, in the same location there should also be empty pails available for you to bring back to the lab. If there isn’t, you can contact UBC Building Operations Service Center to order more glass waste pails at 604 822 2173.
How to proceed: waste that is not regulated because it does not exhibit any of the hazardous characteristics (flammability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) as defined by the BC Hazardous Waste Regulation, and is not restricted or prohibited by the Metro Vancouver Sewer Use Bylaw or Metro Vancouver Landfill Banned & Prohibited Materials can be disposed of via the normal trash or sewer with caution.
- These materials are not controlled by WHMIS or other regulations, and have NFPA Regulations designation in all related hazards of 0 or 1
- Review the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for more information
- Common examples of non-hazardous wastes often mistakenly considered hazardous include: certain salts (e.g., potassium chloride and sodium carbonate), many natural products (e.g., sugars and amino acids), and inert materials (e.g., non-contaminated chromatography resins and gels)
Safe to dispose down the drain
- These chemicals can be Safe-to-dispose-down-drain
- Small amounts of aqueous waste solutions from labs, if approved by Environmental Services, may be fit for disposal via the sanitary sewer
- Review the Sanitary Sewer webpage and the aqueous waste disposal procedure for more information.
Safe to throw out with your garbage
- These chemicals can be Safe-for-garbage-disposal
How to proceed: when batteries are not properly disposed of, the casing can disintegrate. The heavy metals and toxic chemicals within can leach into the surrounding environment, contaminating the soil and polluting the waterways.
- Large automotive lead-acid batteries and uninterruptible power source (UPS) batteries are collected at ESF and recycled through Metalex Recycling.
- Household batteries (weighing less than 5 kg each) are recycled directly via Call2Recycle, the official, charge-free battery stewardship program in British Columbia.
There are Call2Recycle battery collection boxes available at the Biodiversity Research Centre where people can recycle their batteries. For more information, please contact the Shipping/Receiving personnel in room 140 of the Biodiversity Research Centre to direct you to the box locations.