Waste Hand Sanitiser | How do you Dispose of Hand Gel?

31 January 2023 by CSG

Back in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first began, hand sanitiser sales jumped by 600% compared to the previous year. Businesses and organizations stocked up on the product in unprecedented amounts, but it seems that some companies did not consider one thing; these products have an expiry date!

The industry standard for when hand sanitisers expire is typically 2-3 years. As we enter 2023, we wanted to keep our customers up to date (unlike the sanitiser!) on how CSG can help you to dispose of your waste hand gel.

Why is there so much?

As mentioned previously, the popularity of hand sanitisers peaked during the COVID 19 pandemic in early 2020. During the early days of the pandemic, panic buying lead to a supply shortage. The shortage was mostly of alcohol based hand gel, after WHO advised that these products should contain more than 60% alcohol content in order to be effective against the disease.

Why can I not just pour my hand sanitiser down the drain?

Most hand sanitising liquids & gels are now 60-to-95 percent ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol is susceptible to evaporation, so over time your hand gel will lose its potency and be useless at killing bacteria.

Commercial or industrial amounts of sanitiser require hazardous waste disposal. If you try and pour large amounts of alcohol-based sanitiser down the drain, once it vaporises it could be enough to blow your local sewer manholes sky high.

Your neighbours will be less than amused. The media will flock to tell the story, as well as the event garnering the attention of the authorities. Large fines for this practice are the norm, as opposed to the exception.

How to dispose of your waste hand sanitiser properly

Storage of industrial quantities of hand sanitiser creates a fire risk and you should try to reduce this risk, such as storing the liquids in a flammable liquid storage cabinet (hand sanitiser is a class 3 flammable liquid).

Pure alcohol can ignite at just 13°C, and sanitiser with a concentration of 70% alcohol can catch fire at temperatures as low as 15°C. Out of date sanitisers can still be a significant fire hazard when storing large quantities due to the nature of the waste.

Like all hazardous wastes, proper disposal is limited to a certified waste haulier that is permitted to transport and store hazardous waste. Any products that contain ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, should ideally be returned to the supplier for disposal.

The dos and don’ts of hand sanitiser disposal:

  • Do not pour expired hand sanitiser down the drain.
  • Do not put expired hand sanitiser in your rubbish bin (small quantities from households are considered ok, but not on an industrial scale)
  • Do not take large amounts of hand sanitiser to your local tip. These sites will have limited capacity of hazardous waste, so it is recommended that you contact the site first.
  • Do take your waste hand sanitizer to a specialist hazardous waste disposal company, such as CSG!

How does CSG do it differently?

Due to the highly flammable content and hazardous nature of waste hand sanitiser, the typical way to dispose of it is for it to be burnt and turned into energy. In most cases, this leads to a lot of good plastic and cardboard going to waste in the process.

This is where CSG does it differently. We separate the plastic bottles and cardboard to be recycled into reusable components. We then send the liquid itself for incineration at these facilities. This reduces the overall negative environmental impacts of disposing of waste hand sanitiser.

The process involves using a machine that removes the gel from the packaging, so it can be processed in a more responsible manner. This limits what we send for incineration, increases recycling rates and makes the process as efficient as possible.

We work with waste to energy recovery centres that convert the heat generated from waste into electricity and heat for homes. This is part of the network that powers around 18 million European homes and heats 15 million.

If your interested in how the waste to energy process works, check out this video:

So, if you currently have an industrial volume of waste hand sanitiser for disposal or any other hazardous waste collection & disposal requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!