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After the Lesson—What About the Waste?

One of the most frequent questions we receive is, "How do I dispose of a Carolina Biological Supply Company product when it is no longer needed?" Unfortunately, there is no single correct answer. What we'll do is provide some general guidance to help you determine the most appropriate disposal option for your particular situation.

An often-overlooked option is recycling. If a product is still useable, you may want to see if another individual, class, or department can use it. This is typically a win-win situation for all involved. Not only does it save money, it also helps protect the environment.

Schools and/or school systems, businesses, and organizations usually designate an individual to manage hazardous waste collection and disposal. This person may be a valuable resource in helping determine your best options. Check with your organization to see if someone has been given this responsibility. If so, contact him or her for assistance.

In addition to federal regulations, some states and/or municipalities have their own specific requirements that must be followed. Therefore, it is extremely important to always ensure compliance with local, state, and federal regulations when disposing of any chemical or biological product. See "Additional information" at the bottom of this article for more information.

Local and municipal requirements

Many of our products are not classifiable as hazardous wastes and can be safely disposed of through municipal trash collection or wastewater treatment. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, before disposing of any waste material, we recommend that you contact the applicable local agency for approval. This will typically be the municipal wastewater treatment plant or sewer department for liquid materials. For solid materials, it will typically be the local landfill or municipal sanitation department.

Before granting approval, they will need to know the basic composition and quantity of the material being disposed. If it is determined to be unacceptable for the local system, you may have to contact a permitted waste management company for further assistance. If it is acceptable at the local level, you should still verify compliance with state and federal regulations before proceeding.

Federal and state requirements

All states except Alaska and Iowa are authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement their own hazardous waste programs. State programs must be fully equivalent to, no less stringent than, and consistent with the federal program described in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 239-282).

Most states adopt the federal program verbatim; however, some states have implemented programs more stringent than the RCRA requires. You may need to contact your state's Division of Waste Management or Department of Environmental Quality for assistance. The following links provide access to all state hazardous waste agency Web sites (State Agencies) and regional EPA offices (EPA Contacts).

Permitted waste management companies

If a material is classified as a hazardous waste or otherwise prohibited from municipal disposal, you may have to contact a permitted waste management company for assistance. Waste management companies will come to your site and properly prepare the material for transportation and disposal. This typically includes packing, labeling, marking, preparing paperwork, etc.

When preparation is complete, they will transport the material to the appropriate disposal site. There are hundreds of local and regional companies that perform these services. They can be located in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet under "Environmental Services" or "Hazardous Waste Management." For your convenience, we've listed a few of the national service providers below. Note: The following list is provided for reference only and does not imply endorsement by Carolina Biological Supply Company.

Additional information

We hope this brief overview has given you a better understanding of how to properly recycle or dispose of a product after you no longer need it. For additional information related to waste disposal and laboratory safety, visit the sites below.