One of the best projects that was carried out by Zero Waste Systems Inc. was the collection, sorting and re-marketing of no longer wanted laboratory chemicals. We sold them for half price and in the process managed to supply the chemical needs of experimenters, tinkerers and all kinds of home experimenters who could not get through the onerous paperwork of the standard mainstream suppliers.
When a professor at a research institution leaves his lab for a new position, he typically takes his very best chemicals and leaves the rest to be discarded. They are put into a steel drum, covered with vermiculite (steam expanded mica) and buried underground in a chemical dump, intended for burying chemicals. The benighted parent institution following the wasteful rules of the regulator certifies this as “proper procedure”. It is anything but.
Most of the chemicals are perfectly reusable and resalable. All it takes is the entrepreneurial spirit and an understanding of what the chemicals are.
ZWS got its chemicals from all over. Companies closing down or closing a lab, the national laboratories which had tons of excesses, universities and assorted other sources. You will be amazed that you will be given brand new, expensive and sealed bottles of many chemicals. Do not imagine that you will be given “junk”. If that happens, you are not obligated to take anything. If someone is so foolish as to create chemicals which are mixed together or unlabeled or reacted with air or water, that is their problem, not yours.
Will the regulators allow you to reuse and sell chemicals? Maybe! Maybe not! You need to negotiate your way through the regulatory minefield. The rules are designed to make sure that waste is maximized and reuse is virtually prohibited. You can operate under the recycling exemption in RCRA if that is still in effect.