We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Chemical Waste?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
AboutMechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AboutMechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Chemical waste includes both the chemical byproducts of large manufacturing facilities and laboratories, as well as the smaller-scale solvents and other chemicals disposed of by households. It may fall under the classification of hazardous waste, depending on the nature of the chemicals — for example, chemicals such as ethanol and glycerol don’t require special disposal procedures. Health and safety legislation varies internationally and dictates the manner in which this waste must be handled and disposed of. In the United States, it is regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as well as the Clean Water Act; while the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) regulates chemical waste in the UK.

If chemical waste is not handled or disposed of properly, both the environment and nearby individuals are put at risk by its potentially corrosive, toxic, flammable or explosive nature. Proper handling of this waste first requires the separation of chemicals that may react with one another, such as salts from acids, hypochlorites and hydroxides from ammonia, and oxidizing substances from combustible substances. After it is properly separated, it should be safely stored in tightly-sealed drums, bottles, tins or jars that will not be corroded or otherwise affected by the contents.

Special disposal services are usually contracted by the manufacturing facilities that produce chemical waste to have it removed in a manner that complies with health and safety regulations. It is then transported to a special disposal facility, where it is eliminated according to its compound substance or substances. Most chemical waste, including chlorinated solvents, are incinerated at a high temperature, while others are treated by wet chemical methods. After it has been incinerated or treated by wet chemistry, the residues are then safe to dispose of in a landfill.

The repercussions of improper chemical waste disposal often receive a high level of media coverage, particularly when the manufacturing plant or facility demonstrates deliberate negligence. For example, the Hooker Chemical Company of New York disposed of its waste in an incomplete canal and covered over the land before selling it for $1 US Dollar (USD) to the Niagara Falls city school board. In 1977, residents were evacuated after chemical leakage was detected on the site, which by that time featured a school and residential subdivision.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Feryll — On Dec 15, 2014

@Animandel - I'm not justifying what the Hooker Chemical Company did when they buried the chemical waste illegally, but there are many people who don't see anything wrong with this. They don't think there is much of a risk that the chemicals will actually harm people and the environment.

By Drentel — On Dec 15, 2014

@Animandel - There are plenty of companies and individuals who for one reason or another don't throw away and dispose of dangerous chemical waste the way they should.

I enjoy hunting, and my friends and I go hunting on private land that is owned by our hunting club. The other week, we were deep in the woods in the middle of a hunt when we came across a pile of barrels that had contained chemicals.

The barrels were mostly empty, but some of them still had some of the contents. The barrels should have been classified as hazardous chemical waste and disposed of accordingly. Instead they were stacked up in the woods, about 15 feet from a stream.

Rather than pay the extra cost for disposal and thus getting rid of their chemical waste the right way, some people simply dump it where they think it can't be found or at least where if it is found it can't be traced back to them. That's just the reality of the way some people are, and how important money is to them.

By Animandel — On Dec 14, 2014

I don't know the specifics of the Hookerton Company of New York case mentioned in the final paragraph of this article, but how terrible is that? It's bad enough that a company would bury hazardous chemical waste in that way. For this alone, the company should be heavily fined and people should go to prison.

Then as if this crime is not bad enough, they sell the land to a school district and allow a school to be built when they are aware of what is buried under the ground. How heartless can you be?

By Axeleye — On Jan 28, 2014

If disposing of chemical waste at your property or business, be sure to keep it away from any flammable materials and away from children and pets.

AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.