Waste Management Practices by Location - University of Houston
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Waste Management Practices by Location

Generally, waste should be managed by trained personnel who can store it in proper containment, label it appropriately, and arrange for its eventual disposal. Some rules are based on the location or activity generating the waste, for instance: 


Personnel that generate regulated waste (or generate waste that might be regulated) must take training through EHS. This training will be geared at preventing accidents, injury, pollution, and regulatory violation and will depend on the workplace and specific substances. Additional training on standard operating procedures, memorandums of understanding, and other administrative controls may also be required and will be lab-specific. If you have the potential to cause accidents, injuries, pollution, or regulatory violation in your daily responsibilities with regard to waste, you need to attend training. 


Wastes must be contained in a way that isolates the hazards of the waste from personnel that may work around it, from the public, and from the environment. When storing waste with other waste or chemicals, it is also important to isolate waste from materials that may be incompatible- those that could cause fire, explosion, or the release of flammable or toxic vapors. 

In order to accomplish this, the container must be compatible with the waste for the foreseeable storage of the waste in its accumulation location. It must also be compatible with the environment in which it will be stored. In some cases the container must also be in compliance with hazardous material shipping requirements, generally when EHS personnel will not transfer the material to a new container or commingle it with other materials prior to shipping. EHS can provide containers for most wastes as part of services for your workplace. 

In most cases, it is advisable to provide compatible secondary containment as well. In many cases this is a regulatory requirement (hazardous waste, some universal wastes, used oil). In other cases it is a best-practice (biomedical waste). In any of these cases, it is best to assume that secondary containment is required unless it is specifically waived in a manual or in writing by EHS personnel. 


Labeling serves many functions, the most important function may be that it protects you. Labels notify those working around a container of waste of its hazards, and allows individuals trained to work with the waste notice of the presence of certain materials. A significant number of regulated waste incidents at the University involve the mixing of incompatible materials, and a proper label notifies users of what is already in a container and what may be added. 

Labels also provide information to EHS personnel that are trained to make regulatory decisions. They will use information from the label in order to make waste determinations that will be kept on-hand for years after a waste is generated. More importantly, that information will be used to assure that the hazards of a waste are treated appropriately so that when it is disposed of, it no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment. 

Finally, labels are required for all regulated wastes and chemical products at the University. 


Regulated wastes must be disposed of at some point. Many have a timeline for disposal that begins at the point of generation. Some require notification to EHS before a process begins. In some cases this is so that EHS can prepare to receive a waste, in others it is because EHS must notify other parties on behalf of the University. In either case, notification before a process begins, notification once a container is filled, and notification when processes or reagents change are all vitally important to the disposal of wastes and subsequent treatment.