Empty Chemical Containers

California waste regulations exempt empty containers (such as carboys, flammable safety cans and reagent bottles) of five (5) gallons or less capacity from being managed as hazardous waste, as long as they are completely empty.

Containers containing liquids are considered empty if no material can be poured from them. A container that held a non-pourable material is considered empty if no material remains that can be removed by scraping and chipping.

Empty containers disposal procedures:

  • Containers five (5) gallons are less must be rinsed (collect), marked as empty or have the labels defaced before disposal in normal trash or reused to hold waste.
  • Depending on the type of chemical the container held, it may need to be rinsed with a solvent to remove residues. All first rinses should be collected as hazardous waste. Further rinsing may be used where appropriate. The collection of additional rinses will depend on the chemicals involved. Consult EH&S for advice.
  • Glass containers should be disposed of with the broken glass waste stream.
  • Bottles that contained extremely hazardous waste must be managed as dry hazardous waste through EH&S. Dry hazardous waste is always placed insider of two clear plastic bags with the tag on the outer bag. Each bag should be taped or tied individually.
  • Containers larger than five (5) gallons should be managed as hazardous waste.