Definitions of Hazardous Waste

Not All hazardous wastes are handled equally. Listed below are varying types of waste collected by the hazardous waste group.

Please note that this information is only for waste generated at UCLA.

For household hazardous waste, visit the S.A.F.E. website for more information.

  • Gas cylinders
  • Gas cylinders are used in some labs or shop areas. It is important to consider that these will need to be disposed of at some point. Your purchasing decisions may drastically effect how much it costs to dispose of the cylinder.

    Non-refillable cylinders of compressed gases, such as lecture bottles, are extremely expensive to dispose. Disposal can be hundreds and even thousands of dollars each.


    -Buy from manufactures that will take back both empty and partially empty cylinders.
    -Buy compressed gases in refillable gas cylinders - such as those available through UCLA cylinder management. 
    -Buy only as much as you need so the cylinder can be disposed of as empty (if necessary, buy a non-refillable bottle). 

    CYLINDER DISPOSAL PROCEDURES (Lecture bottles only)

    -Label each container with a completed Hazardous Waste Tag. If possible indicate how much material is remaining in the cylinder.

    -If the cylinder is completely empty (no material will escape if the valve is opened), write "empty" with a marker both on the label and on the cylinder.
    -For larger cylinders, contact UCLA cylinder management. Contact EH&S for disposal.

    All partially full cylinders must have a proper valve cap prior to pick-up by Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S).
  • Extremely Hazardous Waste
  • Extremely or acutely hazardous wastes are a special category in the waste regulations. The Federal regulations oversee the acutely hazardous wastes while the California regulations oversee the extremely hazardous wastes. Living in California, we are required to follow both sets of regulations.

    Accumulation Limit for Extremely/Acutely Hazardous Wastes
    -One quart of extremely or acutely hazardous waste can be stored before disposal is required. The waste generator has three (3) days to give the waste to EHS for disposal.
        -If you have less than one quart, you have 90 days to accumulate the waste (same as hazardous chemical waste).

  • Reactives & Peroxide forming chemicals

  • Potentially explosive peroxides can form if some chemicals are kept beyond their expiration date. A special team must remotely open every expired peroxide former individually.

    This "High Hazard Team" is very costly and these charges can easily be avoided if you dispose of your peroxide forming chemicals (PFC) before the expiration date. There is a $100 recharge for each PFC that is disposed of beyond the expiration date. It is important for you, the user, to keep a record of when these PFC will expire so you will not have to pay any additional disposal costs.

    Peroxide Forming and Reactive Chemical Guidelines:

    -Store peroxidizable materials away from heat and sun.
    -Inspect and test peroxide-forming chemicals periodically.
    -Do not open liquid organic peroxides or peroxide forming chemicals if crystals or a precipitate are present.
    -Label reactive chemical containers with appropriate warnings (air reactive, water reactive, shock sensitive, etc.)
    -Segregate reactive chemicals and store in a secondary container.
    -Label PFC and reactive chemical containers with expiration date
    -Do not open PFC and reactive chemical containers past their expiration dates
    -Purchase quantities that can be used in the short term.
    -Dispose of all peroxide-forming chemicals and reactives once they can no longer be used, before they reach their expiration date, or if testing shows the presence of peroxides.
    -Do not move potentially explosive waste such as dry picric acid or expired peroxide forming liquids. Call Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) for disposal. For further information of peroxide forming chemicals and reactive chemicals look at the PFC (Peroxide Forming Chemical) Flyer or contact your Chemical Safety Officer.
    -Lab managers should be aware of the storage and handling requirements of all peroxide forming chemicals and reactive chemicals. Make sure staff members are properly trained.

  • Sharps contaminated with chemicals

  • Handling and Disposal of Chemical Sharps

    -Sharps contaminated with hazardous chemicals includes needles, wires, razor blades, scalpels, pipets, capillary tubes, etc. containing residual trace amounts of extremely hazardous chemicals. Consult the list of extremely hazardous wastes for more information.

    -If the chemicals are not extremely hazardous, but are still hazardous, they should be in amounts that are pourable or scrapable (visibly contaminated).

    -Free standing liquids are not allowed in this container.

    -No infectious material will be accepted in this waste stream.

    -Attach a completed UCLA hazardous waste tag to the container.
    -Dispose at the chemical waste pick-up for your building.
    -Dispose in a plastic or other hard-sided, puncture-proof sharp container that can be sealed closed. Sharp containers cannot be red in color nor have the words/symbols associated with biohazardous/infectious materials.  Cardboard containers are not allowed.

  • Dry waste (contaminated materials)

  • Examples of dry waste include, but are not limited to:

    -Contaminated soils
    -Ethidium bromide or acrylamide gels
    -Dried chemicals that are in scrapable amounts on various surfaces\
    -Extremely hazardous waste containers or debris that are contaminated with extremely hazardous substances
    -Contact EH&S if polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or large amounts of soil are involved

    Contaminated labware includes saturated or scrapable amounts of chemicals on items such as:

    -Plastic labware
    -Pipette tips
    -Containers less than five gallons that are contaminated with chemicals that cannot be easily removed
    -Clean-up debris from a spill

    If the labware cannot be cleaned and reused, then you should:

    -Double-bag the contaminated labware in clear plastic bags
    -Attach a completed UCLA hazardous waste tag
    -Dispose at the chemical waste pick-up for your building

  • Waste paint & art supplies


  • Please note this is only for waste paint & art supplies from UCLA affiliated locations. For Household waste, please go to LA City Sanitation website.


    Waste oil and water based paint cannot be poured down sink drains or disposed of in the normal trash. All waste paint must be collected in the waste paint collection drum located in your work area. If you do not have a waste collection drum, please contact the Hazardous Materials Division of EH&S to coordinate drum delivery and retrieval.


    All paint thinner and other solvent waste must be disposed of in the paint collection drum; it cannot be drain disposed of in the normal trash or evaporated. This includes any rinse material from cleaning brushes or other items contaminated with oil base paint.


    Rinse water from cleaning brushes, rollers, and other items contaminated with latex paint, can be drain disposed as long as the paint does not contain heavy metals, lead or mercury. Most paints currently sold do not contain these materials, but if you suspect they do, check the container label or the material safety data sheet (MSDS). Contact EH&S for further help.


    The following can be disposed of in the normal trash:

    -Completely dry painting instruments, tarps and other items
    -Completely empty aerosol cans
    -Completely empty and dry paint cans
    -Completely empty paint thinner or solvent containers less than five (5) gallons

    All other partially full paint, solvent or hazardous material containers should be disposed of through EH&S.


    EH&S will supply waste collection drums for all work areas requiring them. Once the drum is put into service it should be labeled with a Hazardous Waste Tag. The drum should be kept closed when not being used and once the drum is 90% full or if 90 days have passed, contact EH&S to remove the drum and supply a replacement. Even if the drum is not 90% full, it should not remain in a work area longer than 90 days.


    In order to reduce the impacts of waste disposal on the environment and to reduce UCLA waste disposal costs, please try to minimize the generation of hazardous waste. This can be done by the following:

    -Try to use water based paint instead of oil based paint whenever possible
    -Buy only the quantity of material that you need to complete your project
    -If paint or other materials are left over, see if someone else can use them before disposing of them

  • Fluorescent & other lamps

  • Certain light bulbs and lamps contain toxic metals such as mercury which require special disposal. These light bulbs and lamps are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as "Universal Waste".

    Most of the lamps or bulbs on campus get changed out on a regular basis. Facilities have a crew responsible for the changing and proper disposal of these lamps. However, some lamps or bulbs may come from equipment that is changed by the user or the vendor that services the equipment. These bulbs should be managed as universal waste when they are removed.

    Some Examples of Bulbs or Lamps Include (but are not limited to):

    -Lamps less than 4 feet long (for lamps greater than 4 feet in length, refer to the Facilities Recycling & Waste Management site).
    -Fluorescent tubes
    -High intensity discharge (HID)
    -Ultraviolet (UV)
    -Mercury vapor
    -High pressure sodium
    -Metal halide

    Procedure for disposal:

    1. Place the bulb in the box that the replacement bulb comes in or other appropriate container.
    2. Place the box in a plastic bag (double-bagged).
    3. Tape or tie the top of each bag individually.
    4. Bring the bag to the hazardous waste pick-up location designated for your building.
    5. A hazardous waste tag is not needed for lamps and bulbs because the bulbs are recycled as "Universal Waste".
    6. Broken lamps and bulbs cannot be recycled and must be managed as hazardous waste. The broken bulb should be placed in a puncture-proof container (such as a sturdy-box) with a hazardous waste tag attached and taken to the hazardous waste pick-up location designated for your building

    Contact Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) for more information on disposal. Contact Facilities Management's Trouble Call for lighting maintenance issues.

  • Unknown Chemicals

  • An unknown chemical is a container with material that is either unlabelled, has illegible labels, or has conflicting labels. When the contents of a container are unknown, safe handling, storage, and disposal become difficult.

    Before handling any unknown chemical, perform a visual inspection of the following:

    -Container bulging and collapsing
    -Any marks or symbols denoting hazardous characteristics
    -Crystal formation in the following areas:
        -Surrounding the lid or cap
        -Within the bottle neck
        -Within the liquid

    If crystal formation or bulging is evident, the material may have produced an unstable environment. Do not move or open the container. Contact the hazardous materials manager at to coordinate disposal.

    Unknown chemicals require chemical analysis for identification and incur a charge of $75 per container. When disposing of unknown chemicals, please affix a WASTe tag to the container and have a completed Recharge Order Request available.

    Prevent the generation of unknown chemicals by:

    -Ensuring that all chemical containers are labeled
    -Periodically checking the labels for integrity
    -Using full chemical names instead of abbreviations and symbols
    -Disposing of unneeded materials