Labpacks - All about lab packs, how to pack, and the requirements

Lab Packing - also known as Lab, School, Hospital, Factory or Warehouse Cleanout / Decommissioning

Pails of warehoused small containers for disposal  Jars of laboratory chemicals awaiting disposal  A pallet of paints, cleaners and chemicals in a warehouse, awaiting lab-packing

What is a lab pack

Do you manage a warehouse, laboratory, hospital, school, medical facility, factory, or operation that uses small containers (usually less than 10 gallons each) of chemicals, solvents, reagents, paints, thinners, dyes, inks, acids, bases, cleaners, strippers, pool chemicals, dry cleaning compounds, etc.? 

Over time, you will find that jars and cans have accumulated that are out-of-date, contaminated, partially used, leaking, or simply no longer needed.  Some chemicals, like picric acid (commonly used in medical laboratories) become explosive as they age, and in a few months can explode just from the friction of opening the lid.   Other chemicals, like solvents such as acetone, MEK, xylene, ether or toluene are hazardous wastes after you have used them.  Chromic acid cleaning solutions, used or unused, are a hazardous waste.  Old compressed gas lecture bottles can become very dangerous if the valves have rusted.  Aerosol cans of paint, printed circuit board cleaners and degreasers are also hazardous wastes.

How can you dispose of lab chemicals

What do you do with them?  There are criminal penalties if you throw them out in the trash or pour them down a drain or outside.  Yet, these many small quantities of dangerous chemicals can not safely be combined, and even if you could combine some without blowing yourself up, the resultant mixture is often more expensive to dispose in accordance with the 40 CFR Part 261 - 270 regulations. The EPA requires that transportation carriers be federally licensed and insured and that the disposal facilities that will receive the lab pack comply with TSDF standards. The DOT mandates that waste materials be packaged, labeled and shipped according to its regulations, which are especially complex for lab packs, due to compatibility and spill absorption requirements.

The proper method of disposal is to contract a specialist firm that knows the regulations and the chemistry to safely lab pack them for disposal at a RCRA-approved TSD facility. 

What is a Lab Packed Container

Lab packing is the term used to describe the process of

1. categorizing small containers of chemicals, solvents, industrial supplies, etc.,

2. repackaging and packing them into 55-gallon drums with compatible absorbent, A diagram of a lab pack drum and some of the DOT requirements Photo of a 555-gallon drum being lab packed with aerosol cans
3. Overpacking leaking or damaged 55-gallon drums: Overpacking a leaking 55-gallon drum
4. labeling and preparing the drums to be shipped for disposal and Labeling and reviewing lab pack drums prior to shipment
5. providing the complete paperwork (manifests, shipping inventories, MSDS, etc.) for shipment.  Upon completion, the lab pack company provides you with a complete and detail drum inventory and packing list and can arrange transportation and disposal as well.

Lab decommissioning is one of the more complicated waste disposal operations as it is regulated in more detail by DOT, EPA and OSHA. 

Who are the companies that offer lab packing services?

Looking for  company to do your lab packing for you?  There are far fewer in business today than just a few years ago.  Click here for a current list of lab packing companies.   

The following are pages related to lab packing which provide addition information:

This page was updated on 1-Mar-2014