Waste Reduction

Universities across the nation have successfully reduced the volume of hazardous wastes they generate by practicing the following techniques:

  • Chemical substitution
  • Avoiding wasteful practices
  • Recycle
  • Treatment

Chemical Substitution

Substitute a less toxic chemical or find a more environmentally benign chemical in place of a highly toxic or environmentally persistent chemical . Limit the use of Aqua Regia, chromic acid (Chromurge). Substitute a less toxic chemical in place of a highly toxic one. Same would apply for reactive chemicals. Reduce or eliminate the use of acetonitrile, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, phenol, lead, mercury & silver.

Avoiding Wasteful Practices

Use smaller quantities and scale down experiments and procedures. Use instruments instead of "wet" chemistry.


Recycling begins before the experiments starts - think of ways to reuse, distill, or reclaim chemicals. Acetone and dichloromethane can be redistilled and used for chemical cleaning. Silver can be reclaimed. Redistribute surplus chemicals to other labs.

In summary, think about distillation, reclamation, and surplusing your chemicals.


Add treatment procedures to your SOP's for your lab. Treating your wastes are limited to neutralizing acids/bases, precipitation, chemical destruction to a less hazardous waste, water evaporation, and precipitation. The goal is to reduce wastes and make it easier and safer to handle.