Disposal of Dangerous Goods in Australia


Disposal of Dangerous Goods in Australia

Posted on the 29th of Jan 2017 by Westlab

Disposal of dangerous goods is a key concern when managing a laboratory. Dangerous goods are classified as substances, mixtures, or any object which may be corrosive, flammable, explosive, toxic or oxidising and due to these properties, they become an immediate risk to people, property and the environment.

Dangerous goods are categorised under specific classes in accordance with the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and the Dangerous Goods* (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012, Australian Standard AS1940 (The Storage and Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids). The criteria used to determine whether substances are classified as dangerous goods are contained in the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code). In general terms, a substance or article is classed as dangerous goods if it is listed in the Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) Code.

Dangerous goods, that are no longer used for their original purpose (which is all the potential waste that arises by academic or research activity, or after any chemical or biological use as part of laboratory operations), need to be assessed and a suitable disposal method needs to be selected. Special and different disposal techniques are used to eliminate or reduce the dangerous goods depending on the class required. Detailed guidelines are available to give correct procedures to follow whilst disposing of dangerous goods in order to minimise risks associated with the disposal of laboratory waste.

Every institution/company requires a Waste Disposal Management Strategy according to Australian legislation which they strictly follow to dispose of wastes according to statutory requirements.

General Considerations for disposal of Dangerous goods

  • Identification and separation of dangerous goods from general waste and recycling is the most crucial step. There are different types of dangerous goods (chemical, clinical, biological, radioactive, sharps, asbestos, batteries etc) and each may require a different disposal method.
  • Wastes should be minimized and avoided as much as possible. Waste chemicals and solvents are stored in suitable areas whilst awaiting collection. Regular disposal from the laboratories must be part of the laboratory OHS program.
  • Potential generators of dangerous wastes must ensure the accurate and complete labelling and safe storage, transport, treatment, segregation and disposal of such wastes. Some chemicals can be safely disposed of in normal garbage bins. Disposal cost can severely cut down by disposing of laboratory waste via the normal trash (Only when safe and allowed by regulation).
  • Wastes should be segregated and mixing avoided where possible, as mixing can lead to unexpected reactions. Check for chemical compatibility if mixing is necessary. This type of lab waste segregation makes economic and environmental sense. Separation may be achieved by the use of separate chemical storage cabinets. The major category of chemical waste while segregation are-
  • Class 3 – Flammable Liquids (eg. Ethanol, acetone)
  • Class 6.1 – Toxic Substances (eg, chloroform, dichloromethane)
  • Class 8 – Corrosives Substances (eg. acids, alkalis)
  • The different waste streams have different treatment, packaging and labelling requirements depending on the specific waste stream. This will become easier when each package has a Biological Waste Disposal tag and a generator bar code.
  • If you are producing a large amount of one particular type of waste, have a separate waste container for that.
  • Procurement of chemicals should always be in desired quantities, as minimum as required. The cost of disposal is more than any cost saving achieved by purchasing in bulk. Some chemicals have a limited lifespan and may deteriorate and become unstable when old eg. solvents that can decompose to form peroxides. All chemicals in long-term storage should be regularly monitored.
  • There are methods to minimise Waste Volumes via Treatment. Some waste streams can be treated on-site to reduce the volume of waste for disposal, e.g. aqueous solutions of ethidium bromide can be filtered with activated charcoal.
  • In some cases, it is possible to neutralise acidic, alkaline, oxidising or reducing wastes in laboratories under the supervision of experienced persons.
  • Requirements for the storage of dangerous goods waste are similar to the source they are derived from. The minimum requirement for the storage area is that storage area should provide adequate spill containment.
  • At the completion of any research project, all unused chemicals that have not yet been disposed of must be identified. Any material which is of no further use should be disposed of immediately, while other useful materials should be handed over to the concerned authority.
  • Work health & safety services (WHS) provides technical advice about the classification and disposal of dangerous goods; coordinates and funds the routine collection and disposal of chemical, biological and radioactive waste; and liaises with the relevant regulatory authorities.  Labels are also provided by WHS Services. These are to be completed and affixed to each container indicating the type of waste, the generator’s name and contact details.
  • Dangerous goods from clinical waste have the potential to cause infection. And thus before disposal, they must be disinfected or sterilised by suitable methods  These may be disposed of as general waste provided that the autoclave bag is placed inside an unlabelled black plastic bag. Liquid cultures after decontamination can be disposed of in the sink. All departments generating clinical or biological waste are required to monitor autoclave sterilisation cycles as soon as possible. Departments that require a clinical waste bin for the regular disposal of clinical and related wastes should contact WHS Services for further information.
  • All sharps have the potential to cause injury through cuts or puncture wounds. Therefore it is necessary for sharps to be placed in a sharps container after use. Users are to follow adequate procedures when using and disposing of sharps following Australian Standard AS4031-1992.
  • In many cases, batteries can be recycled. All batteries (e.g. alkaline, Ni-Cd, lithium, lead-acid) must be collected as chemical waste.
  • Fluorescent light tubes contain a small concentration of mercury. Thus to ensure that this mercury does not harm the environment, it is recommended that the mercury in these tubes be extracted and recycled prior to disposing of them.
    Untrained persons should not be given any responsibility in disposing of the dangerous goods. If you are planning a new research project or teaching activity or opening any facility that will generate dangerous goods, contact Work Health & Safety Services to discuss the arrangements for waste disposal. Another great way for disposal of dangerous goods in Australia is achieved by simply by hiring companies that provide dangerous goods removal, disposal management and treatment services.

*Many dangerous goods are also classed as hazardous substances. Hazardous substances and dangerous goods are covered by separate legislation. Many hazardous substances are also classified as Lab Supplies Online, so both pieces of legislation apply to these.

2017-01-29 02:16:00
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