CHEMICAL WASTE MINIMIZATION PROGRESS
Environmental Health &Safety (EHS) is charged with the task of
collecting and disposing of chemical waste. The following is a
summary of efforts undertaken by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)
over the past 12 months to minimize the amount of chemical waste
shipped offsite for disposal and associated expense.
Hazardous Waste Facility and Process Improvements
Disposal cost for chemical waste where individual containers are
“bulked” is the most cost-efficient method. The biggest
improvement in the waste facility is the new fume hood. This new
hood is a walk-in type hood with both upper and lower moveable
shields. It is also considerably larger than the old fume hood.
It offers more protection for EHS staff so more types of
chemical waste can be bulked than with the prior fume hood.
Another improvement made was the purchase of a HAZCAT kit. This
kit has been helpful allowing EHS to characterize “unknown
wastes,” rather than have the waste disposal vendor to identify
it much more expensively. Thus far, EHS has used the HAZCAT kit
6 times and it has saved thousands of dollars. However, EHS is
not able to identify all types of “unknown waste” so it is very
important for laboratory personnel to maintain the
identification of all chemicals and accurately label waste.
Another minor but significant change was the purchase of hand
tools that allow bulking of some types of low pressure
compressed liquid cylinder waste, rather than the much more
expensive method of disposal in the cylinders.
Improving Monthly Clean Out Efficiencies
Another step EHS has taken is to reduce the time that our vendor
spends on site each month to clean out the facility. EHS now
does a better job of segregating and arranging them in different
packaging groups per the Department of Transportation rules.
EHS is much more diligent in working with laboratory personnel
to avoid large-scale laboratory cleanouts by the waste disposal
vendor. This reduced our expenses by $10,000-$20,000 annually.
Controlling Disposal Costs - The Big Picture
Another challenge is that the quantity of chemical waste being
disposed of has grown over the past few years. This is expected
as the level of scientific research has grown. The following is
a summary of the quantity of chemical waste disposed of from the
University and the approximate cost of disposal:
|Year 2012 to date (4
This indicates that EHS has been having success minimizing
the amount of waste being shipped off site.
We Need Everyone’s Help
The disposal of chemical waste is a time consuming and costly
function. We need everyone’s help in trying to reduce chemical
waste across the campus. We urge everyone to carefully consider
each chemical purchase and what will ultimately happen with the
used chemical. Some chemicals are much more expensive to dispose
of than to purchase. It is very important to be very prudent
with purchases, inventory control, and maintaining accurate
identification of chemicals throughout their use cycle.