Empty Container Disposal

There have been incidents at Purdue University involving the improper disposal of empty chemical containers that resulted in bodily injury as well as trash fires. One of these incidents sent a University employee to the hospital with chemical burns to the arms. Properly worn protective glasses did prevent injury to the eyes. In two other incidents, residual amounts of chemicals from separate containers reacted inside the truck's compactor and started fires.

Please remember that although chemical residues may be non-hazardous by themselves, they may mix with incompatible residues in a trash can or dumpster causing fire. In addition, sealed containers may become pressurized during compaction, which may result in residues spraying from the truck onto workers.

Purdue's policies for the disposal of empty containers are more stringent than State and Federal Regulation. These policies are designed to better protect Purdue facilities and staff when removing trash. Detailed empty chemical container labeling and disposal policies and procedures can be found in the Radiological and EnvironSafe for Disposalmental Management (EHS) Hazardous Waste Disposal Guidelines and Chemical Hygiene Plan. Please make yourself, your staff, co-workers, and students aware of Purdue's policies for the disposal of empty chemical containers. You should use the following summary of disposal procedures and guidelines when disposing of empty containers:

  • Triple rinse empty containers with a solvent capable of removing the original material.
  • It may be necessary to collect the reinstate for disposal through EHS's hazardous materials program depending on original contents and the solvent used for rinsing.
  • Identify triple-rinsed, dry, odorless, and empty containers as "SAFE FOR DISPOSAL" with a label available from EHS (example to the right) or by defacing the original label.
  • Remove any cap that may cause the container to become pressurized when compacting.
  • Arrange removal of these containers with the Building Services staff in your area.
  • Alternately, transport these containers yourself to the designated area beside the dumpster outside your building.
  • If you are unable to remove residual hazardous materials from containers, submit these to EHS for pickup using the "Hazardous Material Pickup Request" form.
  • Please keep in mind that a material may be non-hazardous by itself, but may react with other materials in the dumpster or compactor.

Contact EHS's Hazardous Materials Management section at (765) 494-0121 with any questions you may have.


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