CHAPTER 16 - Disposal of Hazardous Materials and Items under Regulatory Control

A. Introduction

Asset disposal is a common practice in managing assets reaching the end of their life cycle. Disposal of asset in many situations, may require special considerations other than evaluation on financial terms but regulatory compliance, protection of health, safety, and environment. HKUST, as a research-oriented institution, possesses many assets which may require special handling before disposal. These assets may include items that are regulated by various regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Department, Trade and Industry Department, Department of Health, etc… Prompt reporting prior to disposal is often required. In addition, these items may be contaminated with hazardous contaminants and thorough decontamination is required prior to disposal. Other than the fix assets, disposal of various hazardous materials such as chemical, radioactive, and biological wastes, etc… is also strictly regulated. Disposal of these materials must follow proper procedures. This chapter outlines the management of disposal of assets under regulatory control, hazardous materials or items which requires special handling and processing before disposal.


Disposal of Assets under Regulatory Controls or Contaminated with Hazardous Materials.

There are a few research and analytical equipment which requires prompt reporting to the relevant regulatory agency prior to disposal.  Some items may also be contaminated with hazardous chemical, biological or radioactive materials.  Users are required to report to the Health, Safety and Environment Office for disposal of these items.  Refer to Appendix 16A, Hazardous Materials/Equipment List for reference.


Hazardous Waste Management

Disposal of hazardous wastes in Hong Kong is strictly regulated. Disposal of chemical and clinical wastes is controlled by the EPD, whereas the disposal of the radioactive wastes is controlled by the DH.  

B. Responsibilities

  1. Users are responsible for:

    • Segregating waste material in the laboratory according to the indicated waste-streams.
    • Accurately completing forms related to hazardous waste management (e.g., chemical waste log-sheet, lab-pack waste forms).
    • Storing and managing the waste safely within the lab or workshop before collection.
  2. Center of Laboratory Supplies is responsible for:

    • Provision of general items (e.g., autoclavable bags, sharps boxes, broken glass containers, hazard warning labels, etc.) for hazardous waste management.
    • Collection of broken glass and empty reagent bottles.
  3. HSEO is responsible for:

    • Providing guidance on the overall management of hazardous waste.
    • Evaluating the operation for regulatory compliance.
    • Securing waste disposal permits & sewage discharge license.
    • Arranging for waste disposal contractor pick-ups.
    • Providing approved, standard chemical waste containers from CWTC.
    • Transporting waste from the lab to the accumulation area.
    • Managing the waste accumulation area.
    • Preparing pick-up and transportation of waste to the disposal site.

C. Types of Waste Management Planning

  1. Chemical Waste

    All chemical wastes in Hong Kong are controlled by the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation. Most of the chemical wastes generated in Hong Kong are sent to the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC) at Tsing Yi Island which is managed by a waste treatment company under contract to the EPD. The three main treatment process systems at CWTC are oily water separation, physical/chemical treatment (neutralization, precipitation, chromium reduction, inorganic metallic waste treatment, evaporation, catalytic oxidation, stabilization), and incineration. Chemical wastes which are not accepted by the CWTC are normally co-disposed at landfills which are designated for hazardous wastes. Such waste requires a disposal permit from the EPD and must be collected for disposal through a licensed chemical waste collector.

    1. Regulated Chemical Waste materials which are regulated as chemical waste are listed in the "Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste" Handbook. Disposal of these materials must follow procedures described in this chapter in order to comply with EPD regulations. For chemicals not on this list, prudent practice summarized in this chapter shall be employed for their disposal. Contact the Health, Safety and Environment Office (HSEO) if additional information is required. There are three chemical waste disposal schemes at HKUST.
      1. Chemical wastes to be disposed to the standard containers which are provided by the CWTC Most of the chemical wastes can be collected under this scheme (Appendix 16B). For details, please refer to the “General Chemical Waste” in section V.A of the “Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste Handbook”.
      2. Lab-pack Scheme For highly reactive and water reactive chemicals, as well as wastes that fail the compatibility test, disposal can be accomplished through the Lab-pack Scheme. Some expired and/or unwanted chemicals may also be disposed via this scheme. Details of this disposal scheme are written in the “Handling of Labpack Waste” in section V.B.3 of the "Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste Handbook".
      3. Hazardous solid wastes Some solid chemical wastes and non-hazardous materials which are contaminated with significant amount of hazardous chemicals should be disposed of by various methods according to their chemical nature and physical state. Please refer to the “Solid Chemicals or Solid Wastes Contaminated by Chemicals” in section V.C of the "Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste Handbook".
    2. Materials approved for disposal into the municipal sewer system include:
      1. Inorganic acids
      2. Alkalis
      3. Non-toxic inorganic salts in aqueous solution
    3. Prior to disposal, these materials must be neutralized to within a pH range of 6 - 10. For operations which generate large amount of acids or alkalis (e.g. monthly production rate >10L) and which lack a neutralization facility, an alternative disposal solution is to request a spent acid or alkali standard container from HSEO. In these cases, follow the first disposal scheme for chemical wastes which is mentioned above in number 1.
  2. Biological Waste

    Any material containing a class 2 or above microorganism needs to be sterilized prior to disposal. Autoclaved liquid waste can be discharged into the sewer. Autoclaved solid waste can be disposed as municipal waste at landfills. Autoclaved sharps shall be contained in non-penetrating containers prior to disposal as municipal waste at landfills. Autoclavable bags, sharps boxes, etc. are available from the CLS (Center of Laboratory Supplies). Biological materials which are co-contaminated with toxic chemicals or radioactive isotopes should not be sterilized by steam since that will contaminate the autoclave. They need to be segregated from other biological waste material and be treated differently. In general, the material needs to be treated with a chemical disinfectant and then be handled as a chemical or radioactive waste. An inappropriate choice of disinfectant can be hazardous. For example, adding hypochlorite disinfectant to a material containing radioiodine can result in the release of the radioactive iodine. Contact HSEO for further information on proper treatment and disposal of co-contaminated waste. Animal carcasses must be disposed according to relevant regulatory requirement established by the Environmental Protection Department. Animal carcasses must be wrapped in opaque plastic bags and send to the carcasses storage freezers in the Animal Care Centre immediately. Sharps such as scalpels, hypodermic needles, and awls must not be included in the pack otherwise they may cause injury to the waste handler during transportation. Also see Chapter 9.

  3. Radioactive Waste

    Low levels of radioactive isotopes may be discharged into the sanitary sewer system. A single monthly discharge limit is established to cover all operations for the entire campus. The exact quantity varies as a function of the specific isotopes involved. In general, dischargeable quantities of 125 I, 3 H, 14 C, 32 P and 35 S are in the pico curie range. HSEO regularly collects radioactive wastes from all departments and dispose them after thorough evaluation. HSEO will keep track of the quantities of radioactive wastes collected in order to assure that the limit is not exceeded. Materials with non-dischargeable levels of radioisotopes need to be segregated and stored until the radioactivity levels are acceptable for disposal. Some materials can be stored at the waste accumulation site on campus while others may need to be transported back to the Radiation Board for long term storage at designated locations. For details of Radioactive Waste Management, please refer to Chapter 10, Section N.

  4. Sharps

    Sharps such as hypodermic needles and scalpels shall be put in non-penetrable containers. The sealed container is then disposed of as municipal waste. Sharps with biological contamination shall be sterilized before disposal. Broken glass shall be put in the broken glass cartons which are provided by CLS. Empty reagent bottles shall be cleaned prior to disposal. Call the CLS Chemical & Dangerous Goods section for collection of these items.

  5. Lead-Acid and Rechargeable Batteries

    Four common waste rechargeable batteries are found on the campus (Appendix 16C): Lead-acid, Li-ion, Ni-MH, and Ni-Cd batteries.

    Lead-acid batteries can be used in motor vehicles, mobile machineries, generators, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) of computer servers and systems, emergency lighting, and building burglar/fire alarm systems. Waste lead-acid batteries (WLABs) are classified as chemical waste. They are controlled under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap.354) (WDO) and its subsidiary Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation (CWR). WLABs must be disposed following requirements established by the Hong Kong Environment Protection Department. WLAB owners should submit collection request through HSEO Waste Collection webpage and provide necessary information for disposable arrangement.


    Rechargeable batteries (Li-ion, Ni-MH, and Ni-Cd) contain materials that can be hazardous to people and the environment. They also contain valuable materials that can be recovered for use in other products, such as magnetic alloy and stainless steel. The University encourages users to recycle commercial rechargeable batteries through the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Programme (RBRP).

    Waste batteries owner should take the following steps before disposing the batteries into the recycling bin:

    1. Remove the rechargeable battery from the equipment.
    2. Cover the battery terminal with masking tape. This is a safety precaution to prevent contact between terminals or other metal surfaces during storage and transport.
    3. Do not put damaged rechargeable batteries into the collection boxes. For batteries that are vulnerable to damage, put them in a plastic bag (e.g., reuse the packaging of new batteries) and seal them with adhesive tape before deposit.
    4. Bring the battery to a Collection Point for recycling.


    Collection points in the HKUST:

    1. Cashier counter in McDonald's restaurants.
    2. Recycling station outside Lift 3 in Atrium.
    3. Recycling station on the UG floor of the CYT building.


    For disposal of a large quantity of Li-ion, Ni-MH, and Ni-Cd batteries, owners should contact HSEO for further arrangements.

  6. Items / equipment contaminated with hazardous chemical, biological or radioactive materials

    Equipment contaminated with chemicals, biological and radioactive materials require special handling before disposal.  Users are advised to follow procedures established in the Safety and Environmental Protection Manual for details.

    Chapter 8: Chemical Safety 

    Chapter 9: Biological Safety

    Chapter 10: Radiation Safety

D. Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste

The procedures for disposal of chemical waste are detailed in the Procedures for Disposal of Chemical Waste Handbook.



Appendix 16A- Hazardous Materials/Equipment List

Appendix 16B- General Chemical Wastes

Appendix 16C- Rechargeable Batteries List

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