The New Chemical Waste Tag


The Division of Environmental Protection monitors local and federal legislation in an effort to maintain environmental compliance on all NIH campuses. On October 28, 2016, the EPA signed and finalized a rule change for the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) governing hazardous waste, which will affect the NIH research community. This rule updates the regulations for hazardous waste generators to "make the rules easier to understand, facilitate better compliance, provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations."
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  • Researchers who generate chemical waste are now required to determine the hazards of their waste at the point of generation (in the labs). This will require researchers to have knowledge of chemical hazards and apply hazard labels to their waste containers. If the hazards are unknown for a chemical, it is recommended to consult the corresponding safety data sheet (SDS), the contributing chemical containers or the NLM PubChem website. The words "hazardous waste" are required on all such waste containers.
  • In order to comply with the new change, the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) has revised the NIH Chemical Waste Tag [NIH 2459 (Rev. 12/93)] to simplify this requirement for NIH personnel.

The Chemical Waste Tag has been used extensively over the years and to preserve continuity, has not been revised since 1993. Reformatting and modifications were made to address the needed changes, while retaining many aspects of the old tag. Pictograms derived from the Global Harmonized labelling system were added for easy hazard identification. In addition, the phrase "Hazardous Waste" was included on the tag with a "yes or no" check box to make it easier to signify and recognize hazardous waste collections. Lastly, explanations of hazards with examples of chemicals commonly found within the laboratory were added to the new tag.

Transition to the new tag can be accomplished with minimal effort required from NIH staff.  The new tags are available at the Self-Service Stores (Bldg. 10, room B2B41/301-496-2051 or Bldg. 31, room B1A47/301-496-4430), packaging (10 tags with 10-12 coated twist ties in shrink wrap) and stock number NSN: 753000L075985 remain the same.  To assist with any questions that may come from the new tag, such as with waste characterization, DEP has created a training presentation and a guidance document (both can be found in the resource section below).  The number for the DEP Waste and Resource Recovery Branch was included is included on the tag as well as a QR code connecting users to the new 2021 NIH Waste Disposal Guide. Please contact DEP at 301-496-7990 with any questions regarding the new Chemical Waste Tag.


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