Hazardous waste standard

No matter what type of work is being undertaken, waste will be generated. Whether this waste is hazardous or not, an integral part of planning to do work is to also plan for the safe and responsible removal of the waste generated. Therefore DO NOT begin new work until you have determined:

  • an estimate of the types of waste you will generate
  • an estimate of the amounts of waste you will generate; and,
  • a plan to dispose of the waste

This page has been designed to help individuals understand the proper segregation, packaging, and labelling practices needed to dispose of hazardous waste. If after reading this page, you still need assistance, contact your supervisor, then the Safety Office.

Waste Segregation and Handling

All hazardous waste is ultimately disposed of through the Environmental Safety Facility (ESF).  In order for our personnel to efficiently and safely handle the wastes they must be segregated where they are generated.

Segregation, packaging and labelling instructions are provided for each type of waste you are likely to generate.  The table below identifies the types of waste, and the links in the "Guideline" column link directly to segregation, packaging, and labelling guidance for that category of waste.

Note: Please do not bring household waste to the ESF. The ESF is strictly for the collection and handling of wastes generated at the University of Waterloo.

Segregation, packaging, and labeling guidance
Guideline Scope of Guide and Examples of Waste
Chemical Waste Segregation Guideline

Flammable solvents - toluene, xylene, MEK

Organic solvents - carbon tetrachloride

Peroxides and oxidizers - hydrogen peroxide, MEK peroxide

Acids - Nitric acid, chromic acid, hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid

Bases - Sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, potassium nitrate

Air reactives - phosphorus, alkyl metals

Water reactives - sodium metal, lithium metal

Contaminated solids - soils contaminated with organic or inorganic chemicals

Nanomaterials - nanomaterials, nanomaterials in solution, or solids (gloves, pipettes, etc...) contaminated with nanomaterials

Biological Waste Segregation Guideline

Blood, bodily fluids, tissues, organs, and items (tools, gloves, paper towels, etc...) contaminated with these materials.

Used pipettes, petri dishes, test tubes, centrifuge tubes

Human body parts (frozen or embalmed)

Animal carcasses (frozen or embalmed)

Sharps such as syringes, scalpels, etc...

Radiological Waste Segregation Guideline

Nuclear substances - Cesium-137, cobalt-60, hydrogen-3 (tritium), 

Contaminated items - soils, liquids, absorbent materials

Sharps and Glass Waste Segregation Guideline

Syringe assemblies, needles, scalpel blades, razor blades, etc...


Broken glass

Glass with sharp edges (microscope slides)

Hazardous wastes

E-waste - keyboards, mice, computers, monitors, etc...

Batteries - lithium ion, alkaline, nickel metal hydride, lead, mercury

Paints and Paint Solvents

Unknowns (no guideline - see note in adjacent column) Contact the ESF at ext 35755 for advice on any unknown.  This is especially important if the unknown has chemical residues, crystals, or other evidence of deterioration.  Please note, upon acceptance, any unknowns will be charged a fee for characterization.

Mixed Wastes

Call ext 35755

Biological + Radioactive = inactivate biological waste, dispose of as radioactive waste

Chemical + Radioactive waste = segregate and dispose of as radioactive waste

Biological + chemical waste = inactivate biological waste and segregate into it's own container

Waste Drop off and Pickup

The most efficient method of removing properly segregated, packaged, and labelled waste from a laboratory is for the individual responsible for generating the waste to bring the waste to one of the waste drop-off locations on campus at a consistent interval.  Do not store waste longer than is needed, it can lead to dangerous situations.  

If you intend on removing six (6) or more items of waste from your location, you will need to pre-arrange a waste pick-up.  Please contact Greg Friday at extension 35755.

The chart below provides details on each facility and appropriate drop off time.

UW Waste drop off locations and hours of operation
Facility Hours
Environmental Safety Facility (ESF) - Location is along the first floor link to the EIT and ESC buildings in room ESC 150 Monday: Friday from 11 am to 12 noon

Pharmacy - Location: 10 Victoria Street South, Kitchener, Ontario - room PHR 1016.  Note - waste should not be left unattended.

Monday: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Engineering 6 (E6) - Location: E6 1022. Note - waste should not be left unattended. Tuesday: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Douglas Wright Engineering (DWE) - Location: DWE 1521A. Note - waste should not be left unattended.

Tuesday: 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Optometry - Location:  Columbia Street, West, Waterloo Ontario: No location designated Contact Greg Friday to schedule a pick-up