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).

Since August 2023, users have been able to log into the Hazardous Waste Inventory Systems (HWIS) using their UBC CWL credentials. This integration streamlines the login process and enhances system security and user accessibility. Learn more. Please note that UBC users who have successfully logged in with CWL can no longer login using email/password. Non-CWL logins will be disabled by April 30, 2024.

Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide

How can I access the Hazardous Waste Inventory System (HWIS)?

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:
    • Hazardous waste management, autoclave training, and other relevant courses
    • Chemical safety and/or biosafety training are pre-requisites for waste disposal training (both renewed every 5 years)
  • Hazardous waste management is a separate course, no longer embedded in the chemical safety training (since April 2020)
  • Hazardous waste management and other environmental training must be renewed every 3 years
  • Training requirements apply to both principal investigators and lab personnel.
  • The online course 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 by ESF – contact the relevant safety programs for disposal
  • Unknown & unidentified chemicals, explosive & potentially explosive materials, compressed gas cylinders & lecture bottles of hazardous gases are not acceptable at ESF – may be accepted by external hazardous waste contractors
    • Waste generators and their departments are responsible for the cost of special hazardous waste assessments, removal and disposal by external contractors
    • Please contact Bang Dang to make special arrangements for direct pick-ups by contractors
  • Empty propane/butane cans and tanks of any size cannot be disposed of via ESF and must be returned to suppliers or recycling centres
  • Empty containers (e.g. large glass bottles, plastic pails, metal drums) cannot be disposed of at ESF – rinsed or decontaminated containers are sent for recycling or disposal as regular solid waste via Building Operations
  • Laboratory glassware (broken, unbroken and decontaminated) is not disposed as hazardous waste – for pick-up and supplies contact Building Operations
  • Equipment containing hazardous materials

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How does one dispose of chemical waste?

Chemical waste comprises of unused chemicals (toxic, corrosive, flammable, oxidizing, reactive, or environmentally hazardous), in their original containers or mixtures of chemicals and byproducts generated from experiments.


Disposal process

  • Create a new HWIS user account or login if you are the person designated to dispose of waste in your lab.
  • 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
  • Use the off-campus HWIS if you are located at a hospital research facility – you do not need ESF approval. Site coordinators will request direct pick up of all chemical waste by an external contractor

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How does one dispose of non-hazardous chemical waste?

Non-hazardous Chemical means any element, compound or mixture of elements and/or compounds which do not present a Physical Hazard or Health Hazard as indicated by the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Waste that is not regulated because it does not exhibit any of the hazardous characteristics (corrosivity, toxicity, ignitability, reactivity) 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/GHS 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 materials include (but are not limited to): certain salts of non-heavy metals (e.g., potassium chloride, sodium carbonate), many natural products (e.g. sugars, amino acids, vitamins, yeast), inert materials (e.g. non-contaminated chromatography resins, gels), etc.
  • If in any doubt, submit all chemical waste via the online HWIS. Your approval list will show the chemical listed in green if it’s non-hazardous
  • NOTE: due to the variety of lab chemicals used there are no comprehensive lists of non-hazardous chemicals

Safe to throw out with your garbage

  • Solid waste materials of low toxicity and which are considered non-hazardous may be placed directly into the building dumpsters.
  • These materials must not be placed in classroom, office or lab trash containers. Custodial personnel will not remove any chemical wastes, including empty containers.

Safe to dispose down the drain

  • Only non-hazardous aqueous solutions, which are highly diluted, in small quantities, infrequently generated in academic labs.
  • Pour these liquids into the sanitary sewer flushing with copious amounts of water.
  • Acceptable pH= 6-10
  • Environmental Protection/ESF approval is required before any disposal or planned discharge via the sanitary sewer.
  • Review the Sanitary Sewer webpage and the aqueous waste disposal procedure for more information.

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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.
  • A detailed waste profile and initial pre-approval are required in order to be disposed as repeated waste streams.
  • Create a new HWIS user account or login if you are the person designated to dispose of waste in your lab.
  • Each of them has specific packaging requirements, and must be accompanied by a special coloured tag as well as a generator barcode ordered via HWIS.
  • Refer to the relevant hazardous waste disposal procedures.

Biological Waste

Includes biohazards, sharps, human blood/fluids, animal carcasses, pharmaceutical/controlled drugs – 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 photo chemicals like fixer and developer – disposed using PURPLE tags.

Non-Regulated Contaminated Solid Waste

Includes lab solid waste contaminated with chemicals (e.g. ethidium bromide contaminated solid waste, silica gel contaminated with solvents, solids contaminated with a significant amount of highly toxic chemicals, 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, photographic, 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 each hazardous waste generator 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.
  • To ensure compliance and accurate waste reporting use ONLY your own generator barcodes and tags .

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What hazardous wastes does ESF recycle?

Solid waste recycling is available through Building Operations.  Go to the A-Z Recyclepedia for a listing of everything that can be recycled on campus. Check out Green Labs for lab related recycling.

Certain hazardous wastes are either collected for recycling or treated at the Environmental Services Facility (ESF):

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 via North Star Metal 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, fluorinated oil, etc.
  • Uncontaminated waste oil is collected 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.

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