There are things that shouldn’t happen…but when they do there has to be a way of handling them. In short, there are companies that will dispose of such chemicals, but at a steep price.
Some decades back I worked in the chemical stockroom at a research site for “Big Pharma”. Our stockroom had not only standard stock reagents, but we stored all of the thousands of little 10ml bottles of Aldrich chemicals that the scientists used in their labs. They would order five bottles of 1,2,3,4,somethingorother and use two and a half. They would then tape them with Parafilm and turn them in to us, at which point we would catalog them, put a stock number on them, and store them on our shelves for others to use. We functioned exactly like a university library with “closed stacks”–people would come to the counter with a wish list and we would find the items for them and check them out.
We had tens of thousands of bottles of diverse organic compounds on our shelves. The air had a pungent aroma. My liver still feels ticklish to this day.
Over the years, many of the bottles would leak, or they might have come in contact with corrosive stuff in the laboratories, or neighboring bottles might have leaked. As a result we had many bottles with illegible labels. This is one perfectly proper reason why there might be unlabeled bottles. Sure, the storage should have been monitored more closely, and they shouldn’t have had gunk sprayed on them in labs, but tell that to several hundred chemists who are checking in and checking out chemicals.
In a prior corporate acquisition, we ended up receiving several cases of random chemicals that had been all sealed up, packed in sawdust or vermiculite, and shipped to us. These remained on our back shelves for a few years, unopened.
Finally, in an era before major computerization, or in smaller labs, the catalog system might be on file cards–definitely not something that would survive the transfer from one organization to the next–so even the old shelf stock number was usually useless if the main label had been defaced.
Eventually we contracted a disposal company to take all of those cases, along with many chemicals that were too sketchy to keep on our shelves. I don’t know exactly what they did with them, but I believe that most were incinerated. They charged quite a bit for the disposal.