Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide

Hazardous waste that is no longer used for its original purpose should be disposed of under the BC hazardous waste regulations due to its quantity, concentration, physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics.

Special disposal techniques to eliminate or reduce the hazard are required. The disposal and transportation of hazardous waste are governed by the BC Hazardous Waste Regulation, the federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations, as well as UBC Policy SC1 (Health and Safety).

Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide

How can I access the Hazardous Waste Inventory System (HWIS) (Formerly Chemical Waste Inventory System – CWIS)?

On campus Hazardous Waste Inventory System access Off campus Hazardous Waste Inventory System access

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What training is required to safely dispose of hazardous waste?

  • Safety and hazardous waste specific training MUST be completed before disposing of any hazardous waste, including:
    • Chemical safety, biosafety training, autoclave training, hazardous waste refresher module and other courses
  • There are videos that show practical aspects of hazardous waste disposal (e.g. chemical packaging)
  • The online course and videos links can be found under environmental training

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What are the general guidelines for hazardous waste disposal?

All UBC researchers (faculty, staff and students), as users and generators of hazardous waste are personally responsible to ensure that regulatory compliance is met and must follow these general waste disposal guidelines:

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What waste streams are unacceptable at ESF?

  • Asbestos waste and radioactive waste are not managed at ESF – contact the relevant safety programs for disposal
  • Unknown chemicals, explosives & potentially explosive materials, compressed gas cylinders & lecture bottles of hazardous gases are not acceptable at ESF, but may be accepted by external contractors
  • Empty propane/butane cans and tanks of any size cannot be disposed of via ESF and must be returned to suppliers
  • The cost of special waste assessments, 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-ups

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How does one dispose of chemical waste?

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.


  • Chemical waste generated at UBC must go through an online approval process, using the Hazardous Waste Inventory System (HWIS)
  • Waste must comply with the federal, provincial and municipal bylaws, regulations and policies – ensured by approval process
  • All hazardous waste generators (faculty, staff and students) must complete the Chemical Safety Training before using the HWIS

Disposal process

  • Create a HWIS user account if you are the person designated to dispose of waste in your lab. (SRS recommends 1-2 users per lab, not including the PI)
  • Follow the detailed chemical waste disposal procedure
  • Enter all hazardous waste chemicals into the online HWIS and provide detailed, accurate and complete information
  • Wait for approval and then package waste according to instructions (Point Grey campus only)
  • Take approved and properly packed waste to designated waste accumulation areas in your building or department
  • Contact your facility managers or supervisors to find out where these locked areas are located, to obtain keys, or find out pick-up schedules
  • Off-campus research facilities must use the off-campus HWIS and request direct pick up of all hazardous waste by an external contractor

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How does one dispose of non-hazardous chemical waste?

Waste that is not regulated because it does not exhibit any of the hazardous characteristics (ignitability, 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-related occupational health and safety regulations, and have NFPA system 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

Safe to throw out with your garbage

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How does one dispose of repeated waste streams?

  • Certain repeated waste streams (see below) do not need to be pre-approved for disposal via the HWIS.
  • Each of them has specific packaging requirements, and must be accompanied by a special coloured tag as well as a generator barcode.
  • Refer to the relevant hazardous waste disposal procedures.

Biological Waste

Includes biohazards, sharps, human blood/fluids, and pathological waste – disposed using RED tags.

Solvent Waste

Includes various types of flammable organic solvents which are halogenated or non-halogenated – disposed using BLUE tags.

Photographic Waste

Includes photochemicals like fixer and developer – disposed using PURPLE tags.

Non-Regulated Contaminated Solid Waste

Includes lab solid waste contaminated with chemicals (e.g. ethidum bromide, silica gel contaminated with solvents, etc) – disposed using YELLOW tags.

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How can one obtain UBC hazardous waste disposal tags & generator barcodes?

  • UBC has implemented a serialized, colour-coded tag system that identifies the type of hazardous waste and allows for specific waste package or container tracking.
  • Tags are used for repeated waste streams such as: biological waste, solvents, oils, and non-regulated contaminated waste
  • Generator barcodes are self-adhesive labels that must be affixed to UBC hazardous waste disposal tags on each container of waste sent to ESF.  Barcodes identify hazardous waste generators for waste tracking and compliance purposes.
  • ESF will refuse collection and disposal of repeated hazardous wastes without tags and/or barcodes.
  • Please login to your online HWIS account to request barcode stickers and waste disposal tags – remember to update your contact info (including mailing address) in order to receive tags by campus mail.

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What hazardous wastes does ESF recycle?

Certain hazardous wastes are either collected for recycling or treated at the Environmental Services Facility (ESF). Solid waste recycling is available through Building Operations. Refer to the A-Z Recyclepedia for a listing of everything that can be recycled on campus.

Large Batteries Recycling

  • 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.

Oil Recycling

  • Oil waste includes automotive lubricating, cutting, gear, hydraulic, refined petroleum based oil, synthetic, emulsion, crude, vacuum pump oil, flourinated oil, etc.
  • Uncontaminated waste oil is colected at ESF and sent for recycling via GFL Environmental.
  • Waste oils must not be contaminated with water, solvents, toxic materials, or poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)

Paint Recycling

  • Surplus paint (non-industrial) is collected and consolidated by ESF for recycling through Product Care.
  • This includes solvent based, latex, and acrylic paint, in containers or aerosol form.
  • Paint must be dropped off at ESF.

Silver Recovery

  • Silver is very toxic to aquatic environments.
  • Photographic waste containing greater than 1 ppm of silver is considered hazardous waste and prohibited from entering the sewer system by Metro Vancouver’s Sewer Use Bylaw.
  • Silver is recovered at ESF by running the fixer through an ion exchange column.
  • Recovered silver is reused by a silver refinery, and the corrosive liquid is neutralized before disposal.

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