Shawn Coleman

Laboratory Hazardous Waste

Discussion created by Shawn Coleman on May 20, 2020

Each year, US companies produce over 30 million tons of hazardous waste.  Though laboratories account for a relatively small portion of this waste, decades of observations indicate that every gallon of waste generated by a laboratory requires more labor to manage.


Consider instrument waste, like the kind generated by liquid chromatographs and ICP spectrophotometers.  What does your lab do when that waste container is full?


In addition to the generic category of lab operations items that cannot be thrown in the regular trash or poured down the drain, here are other specific laboratory wastes:


Sample extraction

Metals digestion


Partially full 1mL vials from completed chromatography analyses

Excess samples

Old chemicals


Used PPE


The above is not an exhaustive list.  How does your lab manage the types of hazardous waste it produces?


Having owned a commercial testing laboratory, I have experienced the pain and the expense involved in answering these questions.  I also have lessons learned and best practices.


Please, share your answers to the above questions.  In many cases, especially for the wastes already mentioned, there is a better way.