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Management of hazardous chemical and biological waste

The requirements for safe management of hazardous waste generated from University activities until transferred to the Hazardous Waste Service.



Waste producers have a legal duty of care to ensure their waste is managed properly by themselves and others.

Certain types of waste are classed as hazardous because they possess properties that pose a threat to human health or the environment. Because of these properties, hazardous wastes must be managed carefully, and there are strict rules on how they are dealt with.

This guidance provides information on the safe handling, storage and packaging of hazardous waste across the University.

This guidance only applies to chemical/biological (clinical) hazardous waste whose disposal is managed by the UHSE Hazardous Waste Service. It excludes hazardous waste such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), fluorescent tubes and asbestos managed by the Estates Department. It also does not cover radioactive waste.

This guidance also includes the disposal and prohibition of substances to drain as defined by the University of Bath Trade Effluent Consent.

Classification of hazardous waste

Hazardous waste is any waste with hazardous properties that may make it harmful to human health and the environment.

Waste is defined as hazardous if it is classified as such in the European Waste Catalogue (EWC or List of Wastes). In general, if it contains ‘dangerous substances’, it is hazardous.

If the content of the waste is not clear, producers must prove that it is non-hazardous before it can go to a non-hazardous waste stream.

Types of hazardous chemical or biological waste

The following is a list of the types of hazardous waste produced at the University of Bath on a regular basis. This list is not exhaustive and advice should be sought from the Hazardous Waste Manager if there is any uncertainty regarding classification of waste.

More detail regarding their disposal requirements can be found in SHEW's chemical waste checklist and biological waste checklist.

Chemical waste

  • Organic Solvent waste segregated into halogenated and non-halogenated

  • Aqueous waste containing low levels of hazardous substances

  • Glass waste that cannot be recycled such as borosilicate glass, pipettes, vials

  • Toxic materials such as ethidium bromide and low level lead, cyanide and mercury waste

  • Dusts, powders and particulates that may be deemed hazardous due to their properties such as a respiratory irritant or potential carcinogen

  • General laboratory chemicals which have expired or gone unused

  • Non-edible waste oils and fuels

Biological waste

  • Sharps are any items that can cause personal injury such as cuts and puncture wounds from handling and includes needles, scalpels, blades, broken scissors, microscope slides, small empty vials and small broken glass items

  • Clinical waste consisting wholly or partly of human or animal tissue, blood or other body fluids, excretions, prescription/controlled drugs or other pharmaceutical products, swabs or dressings which unless rendered safe may prove hazardous to any person coming into contact with it

  • Waste containing biological agents is waste containing Hazard Group (HG) 1 and 2 microorganisms and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This must be rendered safe − for example, by autoclaving at the correct specification, prior to collection for disposal

Mixing, segregation and storage

It is important that hazardous waste is stored safely and securely because of the effects it may have on human health or the environment if it is not properly controlled.

You must keep separate:

  • hazardous waste from non-hazardous waste

  • different types of hazardous waste from each other, and

  • hazardous waste from other materials

Key factors for storage are that you ensure waste is:

  • secure

  • contained so that it cannot escape, and

  • protected from the weather, vehicles including fork lift trucks, scavengers and pests

Packaging and labelling

Waste containers should be labelled with the following information to ensure they can be easily identified:

  • an indication that it is waste

  • the contents of the container (where it is a chemical you should use the chemical identity rather than a trade name)

  • hazard(s) where applicable

The packaging or waste container should be appropriate to the waste it contains. Waste containers should:

  • not allow contents to escape, particularly if there is a leak

  • be visually inspected for signs of wear

  • be replaced if not fit for purpose

  • be weather proof if stored outside or protected

Liquid waste disposal to sinks, drains and surface water

Liquid waste disposal to sinks and drains is regulated by a Trade Effluent Consent. This contains certain conditions and prohibitions that must be complied with.

Liquid waste disposed of to sinks should not contain:

  • solids, sludges or viscous substances

  • grease or oil

  • corrosive chemicals − liquids that have a pH less than or equal to 5 or greater or equal to 9. Flushing corrosives down the drain with lots of water is not permitted

  • reactive chemicals − liquids that could result in an explosion, heat generation, or toxic gas release. Examples include: cyanides, azides, oxidizers, water reactive and air-reactive chemicals

  • toxic chemicals − chemicals that have an LD50 less than 500 mg/kg or are identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic

  • heavy metals

  • prohibited substances as defined by the Trade Effluent Consent. Read the full list of prohibited substances.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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