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Empties : An Issue We Can’t Throw Away

John Alcock on what to do with empty tubs

NOT exactly technical, but I’m receiving an increasing number of calls from flooring contractors asking what to do with empty containers, particularly those that have a hazard warning label, because unreacted contents are classed as hazardous, such as our one-coat membrane or two-part epoxy surface resin.

However, when two products – the hardener and the resin – are combined and the chemical reaction has taken place the resulting product is inert and not considered or classified as hazardous. When asked about what to do with the empty containers my advice is typically; pour one container into the other, mix it up and then pour a little of the mixture back into the first container then back again into the main container and use on the floor.
These little processes should ensure that any residual product is reacted. Both containers should now have no unreacted product or residue and therefore are no longer hazardous.

The problem is that you now have two containers that still have the hazardous classification label on, referring to the original contents even though they no both no longer contain any unreacted products and therefore contain no longer anything hazardous.

Ah, but the label says differently and you have two clearly labelled ‘hazardous’ containers to dispose of. How do you get rid of them? You take them to a waste disposal company which spots the hazardous labels, even though that warning relates to the unreacted contents, no longer present.

Convincing a waste disposal company of this is not easy, sometimes impossible, and they will look to charge you more for disposal.

I’ve raised this issue with the Contract Flooring Association and it is being discussed within Bostik.
As this issue relates to other manufacturers’ products and not just ours, I assume it is an issue for them too. What I think going forward is that there should be guidance offered and common-sense applied to the situation.
However, as we all know, and I’ve pulled health & safety regulations up enough on this, the two don’t necessarily go together.

Situations like this is what encourages fly tipping, although I’m not suggesting anyone reputable would ever engage in such illegal practises, but the unscrupulous few that would, tarnish all our reputations and for what cost – a bit of common sense?

OK, so I am not for one moment suggesting it is simple as there are issues of trust to be considered – would ever yone always neutralise unreacted product or just say we have?

I would welcome any comments or suggestions on this topic as I really do think it needs addressing. The solution seems simple to me, but I know it will need the input of manufacturers, contractors, the CFA and maybe even trade representatives of waste disposal companies. But I know one thing – this is an issue we can’t just throw away!

John Alcock is technical specifications manager at Bostik

T: 01785 272727

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at