Hazardous Waste FAQ

Hazardous Waste: Frequently Asked Questions

Federal and State regulations define hazardous waste as a substance that poses a hazard to human health or the environment when improperly managed.

A chemical waste is considered hazardous if it is either listed on one of the lists of hazardous wastes found in the Federal or State regulations, or exhibits one or more of the four characteristics listed below.

  • Check the Hazardous Waste Chemical List (xls)
    • If your waste is on this list, treat it as a hazardous chemical waste.
    • If your waste is not on the list, determine if it meets any of the four characteristics listed below.
    • If your waste meets any of the four characteristics, it is a hazardous chemical waste.
  • Hazardous chemicals that are stored in containers that are unlabeled or mislabeled, in poor condition, or abandoned are also considered hazardous waste.
  • Used lubricating oil must be managed as a hazardous waste.
  • Engineered nanomaterials such as nanotubes, nanorods, nanowires, quantum dots, etc. must be managed as a hazardous waste unless the waste determination shows it to be non-hazardous.
  • Contact EH&S regarding low concentration wastes or chemicals when you are unsure of the properties.


  • Characteristics:
  • Ignitable
    Flashpoint <140 degrees F
    Capable of causing fire at standard temperature and pressure through friction, absorption of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes
    Is an ignitable compressed gas
    Is an oxidizer

    Liquid with pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5
    Solid that has pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5 when mixed with equal weight of water

    Normally unstable and readily undergoes violent change
    Reacts violently with water
    Forms potentially explosive mixtures with water
    Forms toxic gases, vapors, or fumes when mixed with water
    Is a cyanide- or sulfide-bearing waste which, when exposed to pH conditions between 2 and 12.5, can generate toxic gases, vapors, or fumes
    Is capable of detonation or explosive decomposition if subjected to a strong initiating source or heated under confinement
    Is readily capable of detonation or reaction at standard temperature and pressure

    Has an acute oral LD50 less than 2,500 mg/kg
    Has an acute dermal LD50 less than 4,300 mg/kg
    Has an acute inhalation LC50 less than 10,000 ppm as a gas or vapor
    Has an acute aquatic 96-hour LC50 less than 500 mg/l
    Has been shown through experience or testing to pose a hazard to human health or environment because of its carcinogenicity (carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen), acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, bioaccumulative properties, or persistence in the environment



  • I have some chemical waste ready for pickup. What do I do? 
  • You can create labels and request pick up using the WASTe (Waste Accumulation Storage Tracking electronically) system found here: ehs.ucop.edu/waste. If you need access to the WASTe system, you may request it by contacting the campus Waste Administrator at hazwaste@ucdavis.edu

    We will respond within 5 business days. Additional information available on Safety Net #8 Guidelines for the Disposal of Chemical Waste

  • Where can I learn more about WASTe?
  • Visit the WASTe page for information about WASTe (Waste Accumulation Storage Tracking electronically), including how-to videos.
  • How much does it cost to get rid of my stuff?
  • Our recharge rates.
  • What do I do with my empty containers?
  • Our empty container policy is found here: Safety Net #124 Empty Container Management
  • What type of containers can I use for my waste?
  • Liquids need to go in a chemically compatible glass or plastic container with a leak-proof lid.
    Please leave 1” of head space. Solids need to go in a sealed/closed container or in a double bagged in clear sealed bags. Sharps must be placed in puncture proof containers.
  • How do I fill out a hazardous waste label?
  • Safety Net #110 Guidelines for Completing the Chemical Waste Label
  • What Hazard Class should I check off for my chemical waste if it does not fall under any of the given classes? 
  • If your waste does not fit any of the given Hazard Classes, you should check off “Toxic” since it is a required field for WASTe. You may also further elaborate on your waste in the Comments section of the waste tag.
  • Do I really need a plastic envelope for my hazardous waste label?
  • No, UCD does not require the hazardous waste label to be placed in a plastic envelope. Because WASTe is a UC-wide program, that language is on the label for certain locations that require them. At UCD, taping the hazardous waste label to the container is adequate, provided that the barcodes and waste information are not obstructed.
  • Can I dump my waste down the drain?
  • The campus drain disposal policy is available at our Wastewater Treatment Plant website. The “Sewer Disposal Flow Chart”, “Sewer Disposal Policy” and “Numerical Local Limits” links are very helpful. You can also either contact the WWTP or EH&S Hazardous Waste group for assistance.
  • Do you supply waste containers?
  • Yes. 2.5 gallon poly carboys, and with special arrangement, 5, 15 and 55 gallon drums. We do not supply 1 gallon bottles. You may be able to get some from other labs in your building.
  • Help!! The CUPA inspectors coming! Please come get all my waste!!!
  • You don’t need to remove all your waste. They expect to see some. It just needs to be stored and labeled properly. See SafetyNet #120 Preparing for a CUPA Inspection for everything you need to know.
  • How do I package and dispose of pipette tips and other sharps.
  • SafetyNet #3 - Guidelines for Disposal of Sharps, Biological, and Medical Waste
  • Do you pickup biological and biohazardous waste?
  • Yes but there are often other less expensive options. See SafetyNet #3 - Guidelines for Disposal of Sharps, Biological, and Medical Waste for more information.
  • Is there an online resource that summarizes the generator requirements for radioactive waste?
  • Why yes, there is. Safety Net #9 Guidelines for Disposal of Radioactive Waste
  • How do I request a pickup?
  • To request a pickup use the WASTe application at ehs.ucop.edu/waste
    We will respond within 5 business days.
  • I need some tags/boxes/carboys?
  • Send an email to hazwaste@ucdavis.edu or use the WASTe application to make a request, or ask for replacement containers. Enter the request in the Comments section of the pickup request when submitting waste for disposal.
  • Where do I get clear, 4 ml thickness liners for my dry waste boxes?
  • UCD Buy http://ucdbuy.ucdavis.edu/mm/catalog.cfm Catalog # 89121-146
  • What is the campus delivery address for Radioactive Material?
  • UC Davis Environmental Services Facility
    2201 Environmental Services Lane
    Davis, CA 95616
    Attn: (Your RUA Number*)
    *It is essential the ordering RUA number is include in the address.  This address is also used for Center for Neuroscience deliveries.
  • Where’s my package?
  • We attempt to get your material to you by 2 pm the same day it arrives at our facility. If you haven’t received anything by that time, first contact the supplier to verify the material was delivered to the Environmental Services Facility. If it has arrived here, please contact the Health Physics Lab at 754-4879 for more information.
  • My package is at your facility. Why won’t you deliver it?
  • 1) We have no idea who it belongs to. If there is no identifying information on the package, we can’t identify who ordered it. This is why it is imperative your RUA number and PI Name are on the package and/or packing slip.
    2) Your RUA doesn’t allow you to have a) that isotope, b) that amount of an allowed isotope, c) that chemical form of an allowed isotope. If you are changing your protocol or type of material you are using, make sure your RUA is amended.
    3) You haven’t submitted your quarterly radioactive material inventory.
  • Can I have radioactive material delivered directly to my lab or department?
  • Normally no, but it is allowed in very limited cases. Contact the campus Radioactive Safety Officer for more information.
  • How do I dispose of Controlled Substances?
  • Submit an online controlled substance pick-up request.
  • What is the cost for Controlled Substance Disposal?
  • There is no cost for Controlled Substance Disposal at the present time.
  • Where can I dispose of batteries ?
  • EH&S and the Waste Reduction and Recycling Program have teamed up to bring to the campus a new dry-cell battery recycling program. More info is at - safetyservices.ucdavis.edu/article/battery-recycling-program

    Dry-cell batteries (such as rechargeable and non-rechargeable flashlight, camera, computer, or hearing aid batteries) can create environmental problems such as soil or groundwater contamination when disposed in your trash which ends up at the landfill. By recycling these batteries, we can protect the environment, reduce the risk of personal injury, and reuse precious resources.

    Wet-cell batteries typically contain lead and sulfuric acid.  These batteries can also present a health risk and cause environmental problems when managed improperly.  These types of batteries are considered Hazardous Waste and must be managed separately from household types of batteries.  Please arrange disposal of all wet-cell batteries through EH&S.