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Compliance Requirements
Step by Step Waste Disposal Guide
Disposal of Special Wastes
Pollution Prevention and Waste Minimization
Mercury Thermometer Exchange
Chemical Registry
Chemical Waste Management Guidebook
Waste Disposal Request Form
Permission to Sewer or Trash Chemicals
Chemical Waste Management Training
UMD Contingency Plan for Hazardous Waste Generators
Policy For Termination of Laboratory use of Hazardous Materials
MPCA Hazardous Waste-Related Publications
Infectious Waste Management
Radioactive Waste Management


Waste Minimization

The University of Minnesota is committed to the protection of human health and the environment. To meet these commitments, the University strongly encourages its employees to utilize chemical waste minimization techniques to reduce the volume and toxicity of chemical wastes produced at the University.  An important benefit from waste minimization is that it will help reduce the University's escalating chemical disposal costs which are currently estimated at $1.7 million annually and expected to rise with federal and state restrictions in the future. These disposal costs come out of research grants and operating funds. The following sections describe common waste minimization techniques.

The UMD Office of Environmental Health and Safety, (218) 726-7139, can assist you in your pollution prevention efforts, other references and technical assistance, case studies, maybe obtained from the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)

See the University Stores catalog or call Lab Services at (612) 625-6545 to order these recommended products.

Product Substitution

Substitute nonhazardous or less toxic materials in your chemical processes and experiments. Some examples are:

If You Use: Substitute:
Xylene, benzene and toluene containing reagents in histology laboratories Citric acid based reagents (e.g. AmeriClear)
Standard xylene or toluene based cocktails in radioactive tracer studies Nonhazardous proprietary liquid scintillation cocktails; call the Radiation Protection Division at (612) 626-6764 for information.
Solvent based inks in printing operations Soy based inks
Formaldehyde in cleaning hospital kidney dialysis machines Peracetic acid
Mercury thermometers Non-mercury thermometers
Solvent extraction Solid phase or supercritical fluid extraction
Sulfuric acid/ potassium dichromate (chromerge) cleaning solutions Detergents and enzymatic cleaners
Ethidium bromide New filtration product to concentrate solvent waste 10 times
Phosphate chloride detergents for lab glass washing Non-phosphate, non-chloride detergents

Process Modification

To the extent that it does not affect vital research or teaching, modify experiments to decrease the quantity of hazardous chemicals used and generated. Micro analysis techniques can greatly reduce the amount of waste generated. An example of this is the use of microscale chemistry in entry level teaching laboratories. Also, new equipment can reduce the amount waste generated. For example, new high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machines use microprocessors to reduce the amount of waste generated. Contact peers or professional organizations for the latest pollution prevents techniques.

Maintenance shops or service areas (such as heavy equipment shops or printing and graphics) should also utilize pollution prevention techniques. Contact vendors for information on nonhazardous substitutes.

Segregation and Characterization

  • Do not mix wastes. Especially do not mix hazardous wastes with nonhazardous wastes.
  • Accurately label the waste bottles as to their exact content.

Segregation and characterization allows waste to be redistributed for reuse if someone else in the University system can use the chemicals; if the waste cannot be redistributed, segregation simplifies chemical recycling, such as distillation or reclamation, and minimizes costs.


The University reclaims some precious metals and valuable chemicals to reduce waste treatment costs. The following are examples of wastes you should send to the Chemical Waste Program for reclamation:

  • Acetonitrile and methanol waste from HPLC machines for distillation,
  • Fuel grade solvents and used motor and pump oil for refining by a vendor for use as fuel,
  • Metallic Mercury for redistillation and resale by a vendor, and
  • Photo fixer waste for recovery of silver.

Neutralization and Deactivation

Some laboratories generate a simple, pure chemical stream, such as a dilute acid or base that can be rendered nonhazardous by simple neutralization. Other labs may generate a dilute aqueous stream that contains a metal which can be easily precipitated. In these cases, labs are encouraged to call the UMD Chemical Waste Program at 7139 to determine if they can process these materials to render them nonhazardous.

Inventory Management and Control

Audit chemical supplies and use inventory control:

  • Survey all the chemicals in your labs, shops and storerooms and dispose of those chemicals that have not been used within the past year or two.
  • Purchase only the quantity of chemical required for specific projects.
  • If you have chemicals stored in a "shared" storeroom, take responsibility to redistribute or dispose of those old chemicals left by personnel or students no longer with the University.
  • When purchasing automated equipment, use the type and amount of hazardous waste generated by the machine as one of the purchasing criteria.

Training and Awareness

Train your employees when they are first hired and annually thereafter in waste minimization concepts. Training should include:

  • The concepts described above.
  • Annual documentation of the training signed by both the employee and supervisor.

See  New Employee and Annual Update Training

Documentation of Waste Reduction Efforts

Use the "Record of Pollution Prevention Efforts" form (see Appendix II) to document reduction in your work area. Each January, send an updated copy to the address on the form. The information collected is reported to the State of Minnesota and is also used as a teaching tool for other University of Minnesota laboratories and shops.

Chemical Redistribution Program

Many materials treated as chemical waste are actually surplus chemicals which may be of use to other researchers. To assist in waste reduction, the Chemical Redistribution Program accepts both unopened and opened containers of unwanted but still usable chemicals and labware, and redistributes them to other University laboratories. This redistribution of chemicals and labware is provided FREE of charge to any interested University department or research laboratory.

If you wish to participate in this program, but you do not have a computer link with the University network, the lists and information about this program can be sent to you.

An effective redistribution program is dependent on a constant influx of materials. When filling out the waste packing form, keep in mind that chemicals which are potentially of use to other researchers should be indicated by checking the column marked "RECY"  so that they may be pulled out of the waste stream and examined for possible redistribution.  Inform the UMD EHSO about laboratory clean-outs or of any unwanted reagent chemicals, at 726-6764.  A member of our staff will come out to your site to evaluate the chemicals for redistribution.

Note that certain chemicals are particularly desirable for redistribution and include the following:

Acetic acid (glacial) Acetone
Hydrochloric acid Chloroform
Sulfuric acid Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
OXIDIZERS Ethyl acetate
Bromine Glycerol
Potassium chlorate Hexanes
Potassium dichromate Isopropyl alcohol
Silver nitrate Methanol
POISONS Petroleum ether
Indicators Toluene
Iodine (solid or solution) Xylenes
Metals (powders, dust, shot)
Sodium, calcium, silver, and potassium salts
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