Non-Hazardous Waste

Non-hazardous waste is waste that may need special handling before it can be placed in the trash.

Specific Disposal Guidelines:

Battery Disposal

At UWM, dead and unneeded batteries should be given to Environmental Protection for recycling or disposal, including:

  • Mercury (Watch Batteries)
  • Lithium (Laptop Batteries)
  • Silver Oxide (Camera Batteries)
  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCad or NiCd rechargeable batteries)
  • Lead Acid (e.g. Gel Cell Batteries, Car Batteries)
  • Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

Carbon Zinc batteries or Alkaline batteries less than 4 years old can be thrown away in the normal trash. These batteries often have a green band or other green motif.

Procedures for Disposal at UWM

Throw away alkaline and carbon zinc batteries in the normal trash.

All other batteries must be picked up by Environmental Protection staff. If you are not currently on a regular waste pick up schedule, please contact Environmental Protection staff to arrange for a waste pick-up.

For Leaky Batteries

  • Put leaky battery in a sturdy plastic bag and seal.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Contact Environmental Protection for a pickup

Disposal of Empty Drums

Empty drums are too often a temptation for people to put things into. Later, no one remembers what was put or kept in the drum, and the contents become expensive to dispose. Chemicals in drum quantities in unknown amounts also require extensive safety precautions.

Staff in UWM’s Environmental Protection can help campus users manage their empty drums. Metal drums are sent to be recycled. Plastic and fiber drums are reused on campus in the used oil recycling program, for trash receptacles, and for waste solvent containers. Smaller drums, in the 10 to 30 gallon range are needed as much as 55-gallon drums.

Please call UWM Stores Department x5316, or contact Environmental Protection if you have an empty drum for recycling.

What do I need to do?

Contact PPS Stores (x5316) to request a pickup of empty drums. Drums must be completely empty before Stores can pickup and transport the drum for reuse. Drums must be emptied so that no liquid comes out of the bung if the drum is turned upside down. Pesticides and Acute Hazardous Materials must be triple rinsed with an appropriate solvent, before the drum is considered empty. [Note: in the latter case, the rinsate must be collected and turned over to staff in UWM’s Environmental Protection Program for disposal.] If residuals remain in the drum which are unusable or unwanted, please contact staff in Environmental Protection. Drums that formerly contained solvents should also be given to Environmental Protection for processing.

What about smaller containers, such as bottles and jars?

Glass, metal and other small containers which formerly held chemicals, pesticides, and acutely hazardous chemicals (P-Listed Waste) should be completely emptied and triple rinsed before recycling/disposal. The rinsate should be collected by Environmental Protection staff. Here is a list of P-Listed chemicals.

Once the container is completely empty and rinsed, it should be labeled “EMPTY”, and the original labels should be defaced, then placed into or next to the regular trash. Containers still holding residues of hazardous materials should be given to Environmental Protection for proper processing and disposal.

Ethylene Glycol Disposal

Antifreeze or ethylene glycol (which is sometimes called “used engine coolant” or “used ethylene or propylene glycol”) is the 30th highest volume chemical produced in the United States.

At UWM, ethylene glycol is in the top 10 highest volume chemicals used. When ethylene glycol or antifreeze is “spent”, it is usually dirty or contaminated, but the ethylene glycol itself usually does not break down. Recycling is a favored option over disposal for ethylene glycol.

Recycling efforts on Campus

The UWM fleet garage has a recycling unit capable of cleaning, analyzing and reconstituting spent ethylene glycol into usable antifreeze. The process uses a closed loop system to clean, reconstitute and replace the antifreeze from a motor vehicle back into that same vehicle. Batch loads can also be processed.

Procedures for Recycling Antifreeze at UWM

If you have a significant amount (a gallon or more) of ethylene glycol, uncontaminated by other hazardous materials, bring the anti-freeze to the Fleet Garage for reclamation. If the anti-freeze is contaminated with other known hazardous materials, contact Environmental Protection for pickup and disposal of your waste.

Fluorescent Lamp Disposal

To report lighting problems, use iserviceDesk

Facility Services has trained Lampers that are able to safely replace burned-out bulbs and can handle and recycle the used bulbs properly.

Fluorescent lamp disposal is an environmental concern due to the presence of mercury within the fluorescent tube. Burned out and unneeded lamps may be handled either as hazardous waste or as recycled waste. If the lamp is sent to be recycled, the storage requirements before shipment are relaxed as compared to the hazardous waste requirements.

There are specific rules regarding broken lamps.

  • Separate bulbs broken by accident into a leak-proof container that will prevent leakage and releases of mercury or other hazardous constituents.
  • Do not place broken fluorescent bulbs in unlined metal containers. Metal containers will absorb mercury and may themselves become subject to hazardous waste requirements

Recycling is desirable for both convenience and conservation purposes. All the lamps picked up on the UWM campus are sent for recycling.

Procedures for Recycling Bulbs at UWM

Contact PPS Stores (414-750-6452) to request a pickup of boxes of fluorescent lamps. Lamps must be stored in boxes that are completely closed. If the lamps are sticking out of the end of the box, they will be rejected by the shipper. If possible, use the boxes the replacement tubes came in. PPS Stores will keep the boxes of fluorescent lamps at the University Services and Research Building (USRB) until shipment. Please keep lamps of different sizes and shapes in separate boxes. The number and type of lamp should be written/printed on the end of each box as well as the date the lamps were placed in the box.

If you only have a few lamps, contact Custodial Services at x6466 for instructions.

Laboratory Glass Disposal

Broken glass and glass which could potentially break and become a cut or puncture hazard must be carefully packaged before being put in the trash. Remember, custodians and waste haulers must be able to do their work without being subjected to undue hazard. At UWM, the custodians will dispose of laboratory glass if a few considerations are taken:

  • the glassware cannot be contaminated with hazardous material, including chemicals, biohazards, or infectious agents,
  • the glassware must be stored inside of a puncture-resistant, leak-proof container (such as a plastic bucket or sturdy cardboard box),
  • the glassware must be substantially free of liquids,
  • the container must be marked or labeled “BROKEN GLASS”, “SHARP GLASS” or some other appropriate warning,
  • the container must be sealed with tape and placed next to the waste basket or other area designated by UWM Custodial Services,
  • Glassware which previously held chemicals must be rinsed and placed in a rigid container. The container should then be sealed and labeled “GLASS” or “SOLID NON-HAZARDOUS WASTE”.
  • If the glassware is contaminated with hazardous materials, please contact Environmental Protection staff to request further assistance.

Signs Available for Printing and Posting

Oil Disposal

Oil is disposed or recycled depending on whether the oil is contaminated with any hazardous constituents. Generally, oil that is not contaminated is recycled through a local oil reclaimer. On campus, Environmental Affairs picks up unneeded and surplus oil as a regular waste pickup, upon request. If the client states that the oil has a hazardous contaminant because of knowledge of the process where the oil was used, or if the oil is found to contain hazardous constituents, the oil is included in the next hazardous waste shipment.

Some examples of “used oil” are:

  • Synthetic oil — usually derived from coal, shale, or polymer-based starting material.
  • Engine oil — typically includes gasoline and diesel engine crankcase oils and piston-engine oils for automobiles, trucks, boats, airplanes, locomotives, and heavy equipment.
  • Transmission fluid.
  • Refrigeration oil.
  • Compressor oils.
  • Metalworking fluids and oils.
  • Laminating oils.
  • Industrial hydraulic fluid.
  • Copper and aluminum wire drawing solution.
  • Electrical insulating oil.
  • Industrial process oils.
  • Oils used as buoyants.

The following are not considered “used oil”:

  • Waste oil that is bottom clean-out waste from virgin fuel storage tanks, virgin fuel oil spill cleanups, or other oil wastes that have not actually been used.
  • Products such as antifreeze and kerosene.
  • Vegetable and animal oil, even when used as a lubricant. Contact the UWM Purchasing Department for information on vendors who will take oils and grease for rendering.
  • Petroleum distillates used as solvents.

Oils that do not meet EPA’s definition of used oil can still pose a threat to the environment when disposed of and could be subject to the RCRA regulations for hazardous waste management.

If the oil is suspected of containing PCBs, the oil will either be tested by a certified laboratory (at a cost around $50.00). If the volume is less than 50 gallons, suspect oil may be assumed to contain PCBs and will be included in our next PCB shipment.

If the oil is thought to be free of contaminants, has no likelihood of containing PCBs, and checks out free of solvent contamination, the oil will be brought to the University Services Building and included in the next waste oil for recycling shipment. Waste oil for recycling shipments are initiated after 200 gallons of waste oil have been accumulated. Less than that amount can be picked up by the oil recycling service, subject to a pick up charge. Shipments over 200 gallons are free.

While the recycling shipments are free, costs associated with contaminated oil and other costs involved in managing the recycled oil prohibit us from accepting waste oil from off-campus sources. Every community in Southeastern Wisconsin is required to have a community waste oil recycling program. Contact your local Department of Public Works for the location of the nearest drop-off point.

Disposal of Printer/Toner/Injet Cartridges

Most used or unneeded printer/toner/inkjet cartridges are not regulated as hazardous waste, but should be recycled. The best way to recycle these cartridges is to send them back to the manufacturer.

Our department and many other departments on campus send spent copier and laser printer cartridges back to the manufacturer or supplier to be recycled.

  • Please follow instructions included with printer cartridges.
  • Save the original box and all the packing material.
  • Instructions will include a postage paid return sticker
  • Seal box and affix sticker
  • Box may be deposited in Campus mail bag or leave for UPS pickup

Some toner comes in liquid form, which is likely to contain flammable solvents. The hazardous waste program would handle the disposal of the liquid toner cartridges.

If you have further questions, please contact the Environmental Protection Department.

Sharps Disposal

Environmental Protection does not provide sharps containers to research groups. We will still provide disposal of full sharps containers at no cost.

Sharps containers are available for purchase through our State of Wisconsin Contract Vendors. Fisher Scientific, VWR, and Grainger offer affordable containers, in various sizes, so that you are able to pick the style and price-point that best suits your laboratory.

Remember, broken glass, glass slides, and pipette tubes that are not contaminated with biological hazards, can be disposed of in a lined, rigid cardboard box for custodial services to dispose of.

What are Sharps?

Sharps are waste items that can potentially cut or puncture skin, such as:

  • Needles
  • Syringes
  • Lancets
  • Scalpels
  • Razor blades (Razor blades must be disposed of in a puncture-resistant sharps container
  • X-Acto knife blades

What Items are NOT Considered Sharps?

  • Broken glass
  • Glass Pipettes
  • Microscope slides
  • Other Glass

What are the Disposal Procedures at UWM?

  • The Department of University Safety & Assurances has provided sharps boxes in major men’s and women’s restrooms on the first floors of academic buildings. Our Environmental Protection staff picks up full boxes and places empty sharps boxes in the locked holders.
  • In research labs, place sharps into a puncture-resistant, leak-proof, sharps container. When the container is full, seal the lid tightly and contact Environmental Protection to request a pickup.