The reduction of waste boils down to two possibilities: use less or divert more. Recycling is one way to divert more materials from the waste disposal process and into the material re-use process. Using less materials is another way to reduce waste since less materials being used, means less materials coming out. Waste does not only care about total volume or weight, but also the type of waste. A hazardous chemical waste needs special treatment before disposal. Learning to not only reduce waste, but how to treat special types of waste will help assist in establishing a successful waste management plan.


  • Reduction in waste will lead to less trash hauling fees
  • Money saved through less material use
  • Create a safe, organized work environment
  • Reduce environmental footprint of the company
  • Use chemical supplies more efficiently

Tools and Resources

Here are some resources on how to:

  • Set up printer/copy machines to print double sided by default
  • Secure gas cylinders and survey regulators for leaks
  • Prepare documents and information to be available digitally instead of printing
  • Routinely review and maintain chemical inventories
  • Using chemical supplies on a first-in, first-out basis
  • Place waste stream accumulation areas near the end of the process
  • Miniaturize or computationally simulate procedure when possible
  • Rent, lease or share extra quantities of purchased materials from the lab
  • Clearly label chemical containers and ensure they are identifiable
  • Properly close and seal designated waste containers
  • Neutralize acid waste before disposal

Setting up printer/copy machines to print double sided by default

Setting up the printer/copy machine to print double sided by default will automatically save your company money. Automatically enabling this will be the most efficient so employees do not even have to think about it. If this is not the case, then having everyone go into the print settings on each computer to enable double sided printing is the next best way. Also only setting the printer/copy machines to use black and white color will save money in the long run. If you want to save even more money on ink you can decrease the color of the black ink by using a more gray color for the print.

The Microsoft Office support page explains how to change the settings in word to print double-sided. This resource will also explain how to test if the printer/copy machine supports automatic duplex printing.

Securing gas cylinders and surveying regulators for leaks

Securing gas cylinders is not only the proper way to store them but is in your best interest. This could avoid future injuries and lawsuits. Securing gas cylinders is obviously a good idea, but there may be some confusion on exactly follow all of the proper protocols when it comes to their storage. Surveying regulators for leaks can avoid future injuries and hazards. The potential for a leaking regulator could lead to a gas leak which no one wants to have happen or deal with the aftermath. More information on how to avoid that situation can be found below.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has a facts sheet about compressed gases. This resources covers not only storage but safety, storage, moving and proper ventilation.

Indiana University has a page on compressed gas cylinder safety that will go over inspection and proper labeling along with other general information.

Arizona State University has published a Compressed Gases Safety Program that provides step-by-step procedures on the proper way to store, handle and inspect equipment. The guide also includes visuals that help indicate labels and further information.

Preparing documents and information to be available digitally instead of printing

Preparing documents and information to be available digitally is an easier and faster way to share information around your company. With technology advancements, numerous employees can receive the same document, make changes and even send it back. Having documents digitally allows them to be shared and passed around with ease. It also leaves a trail to see who received what document and allows for easier clarity. Lastly, digital documents save money through using less ink and paper through printing.

Xero has a wonderful guide that makes the argument of why digital documents usually make more sense. It outlines why paper documents are sometimes required, but in the end shows how much your company could save through going digital. It even gives a helpful 10 step guide on how to start making changes from paper to digital.

Routinely reviewing and maintaining chemical inventories

Reviewing and maintaining chemical inventories are the ways to make sure you are not over or under ordering supplies. This will also allow you to see if you have any chemicals lying around that are not being used that another lab could use. Sharing supplies could save your company money in the long run. This will also ensure that employees are held accountable for the chemicals they are left in charge of and ensure no chemicals have gone missing.

OSHA has put together a guide that includes how to assign roles to lab personnel and review the chemical inventories of a laboratory. It also helps to properly have chemicals properly labeled in order to assist in the ease of reviewing the current inventory of supplies. If your laboratory already properly stores and labels its chemicals, then it should be fairly simple to review your inventory. Maintaining a proper inventory will help assist the laboratory manager who orders supplies. This way no supplies get over/under ordered and lab personnel are alerted if something is missing or needs to get ordered.

Using chemical supplies on a first-in, first-out basis

Chemical supplies used on a FIFO(First In, First Out) basis is a best practice example of how to properly manage chemical inventory and ensure that nothing goes to waste. This way supplies do not sit in the back of the storage units and nothing spoils past its expiration date because the oldest supply is what gets used first. This is one method of accounting that is often used for inventories especially for laboratories.

Towson University’s Department of Environmental Health & Safety has a Chemical Storage Guideline that has chemical storage guidelines that includes a FIFO method of storage to avoid degradation of older chemicals and their containers.

Placing waste stream accumulation areas near the end of the process

Placing waste stream accumulation areas near the end of the process improves efficiency of the process. When the process ends and waste is generated it is wise to have some way to immediately and easily dispose of that waste. If there is no accumulation area at the end then the waste will need to be transported to an area where the waste is collected. This is inefficient if an accumulation area can easily be placed with little effort. To waste an employee’s time to move waste is inefficient. Let your staff take care of the waste from the accumulation areas instead of having your scientists waste their time.

Miniaturized or computational simulation procedure when possible

Miniaturization and computational simulations are two ways to save time, money, and energy. Using the least amount of chemicals in a process while still reaching the desired outcome is better than using a large amount. Using the least amount saves money which is always a benefit. Computational simulation procedures are the present and future of how to conduct research. A computer can work faster than a human and will not waste chemical supplies the way in which a human would. It is an easier method to conduct numerous procedures and reach a conclusion.

The Scientist published an article titled, Miniaturization, Parallel Processing Come to Lab Devices. The article goes on to describe how the laboratory is shrinking and processes will be conducted through a microchip instead of a lab bench.

Renting, leasing or sharing extra quantities of purchased materials from the lab 

Renting, leasing or sharing extra quantities of purchased materials from the lab is an easy way to save money and efficiently use overstocked or unused supplies. Renting out purchased materials adds potential to generate revenue when those supplies are not in use. Sharing materials with other labs is a great way to efficiently order and restock chemical supplies. This way if one lab does not use much of a particular chemical then the other lab can use the extra amount. This ensures that if your laboratory uses the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method of inventory, no chemical will sit in storage for a long period of time until it spoils.

Clearly labeling chemical containers and ensuring they are identifiable

Properly labeling chemical containers is imperative to employee health and safety. Since laboratories may share chemicals with other personnel it is vital that chemicals be properly labeled to avoid dangerous or potentially harmful situations. The labels should also include the date the chemical was acquired to ensure that the FIFO method is followed by every employee. To increase communication and clear confusion, color coding chemical containers can be a quick and useful method to identify what chemicals cannot be stored near one another.

The National Research Council published a book titled, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards that covers the extensive details of how and why chemicals should be labeled. This includes general information but even delves into the compatibility of some chemicals with others during storage. This resources is the most in depth and is the best place to begin researching how to correctly store and label chemical containers.

Properly closing and sealing designated waste containers

The National Research Council published a book titled, Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards that covers how to properly seal and store chemicals in a laboratory. Depending on the chemical it may have a certain method of storage or require a particular temperature environment. It is vital to understand what chemicals need which environments of storage space and are sealed to avoid cross contamination.

Neutralizing acid waste before disposal

There are many guides and protocols for how to neutralize acid waste before disposal

Indiana University has a guide that includes neutralization procedures on acid waste before disposal.

University of Washington has a guide that prescribes ways to neutralize weaker acids and strong concentrated acids.

University of Wisconsin has a guide on how to neutralize acids before disposal and how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Works Cited and Other Resources

“Acid and Base Neutralization.” Environmental Health and Safety University of Washington. University of Washington, n.d. Web. <;.

“Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety.” Protect IU. Indiana University, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Compressed Gases Safety Program.” (2015): n. pag. Arizona State University. Arizona State University Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Web. <;.

“Environmental Policies.” Safety & Environmental Management. University of Wisconsin Green Bay, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

“How To Have A Paperless Office.” Xero Accounting Software. Xero, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.; United States Department of Labor. United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

Latta, Sara. “Miniaturization, Parallel Processing Come To Lab Devices.” The Scientist. The Scientist, 15 Sept. 1997. Web. <–Parallel-Processing-Come-To-Lab-Devices/&gt;.

“Management of Specific Waste Types.” Office of Environmental, Health, and Safety Management. Indiana University, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

National Research Council (US) Committee on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory. “Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version.” NCBI. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

“OSH Answers Fact Sheets.” Government of Canada, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Government of Canada, 8 July 2008. Web. 19. Sept. 2015. <;.

“Print on Both Sides of the Paper (duplex Printing) in Word.” Office. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <;.

2001, Revised July. “Chemical Storage Guidelines.” (n.d.): n. pag. CHEMICAL STORAGE GUIDELINES. Towson University. Web.           <;.