Hazardous waste standard

Waste will be generated regardless of the type of work. Whether this waste is hazardous or not, an integral part of planning new work is planning for the safe and responsible removal of the waste generated.

Do not begin new work until you have determined:

  • The types of waste you will generate
  • The amounts of waste you will generate
  • A plan to dispose of the waste

This page provides guidance on the proper segregation, packaging, and labelling practices for hazardous waste at the University. If after reading this page you still need assistance, contact your supervisor then the Safety Office.

Topics discussed on this page:

Waste segregation and handling

All hazardous waste generated at the University is disposed of through the Environmental Safety Facility (ESF). 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
  • Air reactive: phosphorus, alkyl metals
  • Acids: nitric acid, chromic acid, hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid
  • Bases: sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, potassium nitrate
  • Contaminated solids: soils contaminated with organic or inorganic chemicals
  • Flammable solvents: toluene, xylene, MEK
  • Nanomaterials: nanomaterials, nanomaterials in solution, solids contaminated with nanomaterials (e.g. gloves, pipettes)
  • Organic solvents: carbon tetrachloride
  • Peroxides and oxidizers: hydrogen peroxide, MEK peroxide
  • Water reactive: sodium metal, lithium metal

Biological Waste Segregation Guideline

  • Animal carcasses (frozen or embalmed)
  • Blood, bodily fluids, tissues, organs, and items contaminated with these materials (e.g. tools, gloves, paper towels)
  • Human body parts (frozen or embalmed)
  • Sharps (e.g. syringes, scalpels)
  • Used pipettes, petri dishes, test tubes, centrifuge tubes

Radiological Waste Segregation Guideline

  • Contaminated items (e.g. soils, liquids, absorbent materials)
  • Nuclear substances: cesium-137, cobalt-60, hydrogen-3 (tritium)
Sharps and Glass Waste Segregation Guideline
  • Broken glass
  • Glass, microscope slides
  • Sharps: syringe assemblies, needles, scalpel blades, razor blades

Hazardous Wastes

  • Batteries: lithium ion, alkaline, nickel metal hydride, lead, mercury
  • E-waste: keyboards, mice, computers, monitors
  • Paints and paint Solvents

Contact the ESF at ext. 35755 for advice.

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

  • Biological and chemical wastes mixed: inactivate biological waste and segregate into it's own container
  • Biological and radioactive wastes mixed: inactivate biological waste and dispose of as radioactive waste
  • Chemical and radioactive wastes mixed: segregate and dispose of as radioactive waste

Contact the ESF at ext. 35755 for advice.

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 it to one of the waste drop-off locations on campus at a consistent interval. Do not store waste longer than it is needed, it can lead to dangerous situations.

Waste drop-off procedures have changed. Please ensure waste bottles (liquids and solids) are accompanied by a Waste Profile Form. The form should mimic the label, indicating percentages and concentrations of materials within the containers. 

Download the Waste Profile Form.

If you intend on removing six or more items of waste from your location, you will need to pre-arrange a waste pick-up, contact the ESF.

Locations, hours, bookings and contact information

Service Message (August 6, 2020)

Beginning the week of August 10th, the processes for hazardous waste drop-off and pick-up will be changing. All drop-offs and pick-ups will need to be scheduled in advance using Microsoft Outlook and everyone bringing waste to a waste facility on campus will be expected to follow the traffic flow guidelines in place for that area. Operating hours for each waste facility have also changed.

Refer to the resources below for guidance on booking time slots and the traffic flow guidelines for the different waste facilities. Contact Greg Friday with questions about hazardous waste.

UW Waste drop-off locations and hours of operation
Facility Hours

Environmental Safety Facility (ESF)

  • Located along the first floor link to the EIT and ESC buildings in room ESC 150
  • Main campus traffic flow guide (please review before coming to your appointment)
Monday - Friday: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm


  • Located at 10 Victoria Street South, Kitchener (Room PHR 1016) 
  • Do not leave waste unattended
  • Pharmacy traffic flow guide (please review before coming to your appointment)
Monday: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Engineering 6 (E6) 

  • Located in E6 (Room 1022)
  • Do not leave waste unattended
Tuesday: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Douglas Wright Engineering (DWE)

  • Located in DWE (Room 1521A)
  • Do not leave waste unattended
Tuesday: 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

Optometry, BMH, RAC1, RAC2, EV1, EV2, EV3, EV4

Contact Greg Friday to schedule a pick-up