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Waste Source Reduction Techniques

Use the following techniques to reduce waste sources:

Purchasing and Inventory Control

  • Use computerized tracking systems to manage purchasing and control inventory.
  • Maintain current inventory records to prevent overstocking and to monitor the shelf life of remaining chemicals.
  • Develop a campus-wide chemical exchange network to promote chemical sharing and avoid redundant purchases.
  • Negotiate with suppliers to gain volume discounts, flexible delivery schedules, and delivery of fewer small-sized containers without cost penalties.
  • Purchase quantities for immediate use only. Do not order quantities to obtain a special unit cost savings.
  • Obtain compressed gases from vendors who accept return of empty or partially full cylinders.
  • Include waste generation as a criteria in equipment selection.
  • Rotate chemical stocks to use chemicals before their shelf-life expires.

Chemical Usage

  • Use lab procedures that assure the integrity of chemical quality.
  • Reduce spills and waste by pre-weighing chemicals for undergraduate use.
  • Require proper labeling of all secondary containers. Replace all deteriorating labels on primary and secondary containers.
  • Substitute less hazardous chemicals whenever possible (e.g., biodegradable scintillation cocktails instead of xylene or toluene-based cocktails).
  • Minimize the use of heavy metals (e.g., silver, chromium, mercury, barium, cadmium, and lead).
  • Substitute alcohol or electronic thermal monitors for mercury thermometers.
  • Use "No-Chromix", detergents, or enzymatic cleaners to clean laboratory glassware.
  • Minimize solvent waste by recycling or substitution.

12. Waste Minimization Techniques

Follow these techniques to reduce hazardous waste:

  • Establish a Faculty Task Force to review waste streams and recommend waste minimization procedures.
  • Do not mix different types of waste. Do not put non-hazardous waste, such as a mixture of water, sodium bicarbonate, and acetic acid, into a waste container of hazardous waste.Do not combine inorganic heavy metal waste with organic solvents waste. Segregate halogenated waste solvents from non-halogenated waste solvents
  • Segregate waste streams by storing them in separate waste containers. Store waste containers separate from reagent containers being used to avoid accidental contamination.
  • Decontaminate empty containers to make them non-hazardous.
  • Neutralize dilute acids and bases to make them non-hazardous and suitable for drain disposal.
  • When possible, redesign experimental protocols so that harmful byproducts are detoxified or reduced.
  • Recycle chemicals via purification.
  • Make lab employees accountable for waste when labs are decommissioned.

13. Segregation

Segregated waste is safer and easier to dispose of than nonsegregated waste. Mixed waste, for example, must be handled as both radioactive waste and hazardous waste.

Each employee who generates waste is personally responsible for the following:

  • Ensuring that hazardous wastes are accumulated in safe, transportable containers.
  • Ensuring that hazardous wastes are stored properly to prevent possible exposure.

In addition to the guidelines for waste minimization and substitution, follow these guidelines for waste segregation:

  • Segregate waste into the following groups:
    • Halogenated solvents
    • Non-halogenated solvents
    • Acids
    • Bases
    • Heavy metals
    • Poisons
    • Reactives
  • Do not mix non-hazardous waste, such as water, with hazardous waste.
  • Do not combine inorganic heavy metal waste with organic solvent waste in hazardous waste containers.
  • Double-bag dry materials contaminated with chemicals (paper, rags, towels, gloves, or kim wipes, etc.) in heavy-duty plastic bags. Do not use biohazard bags. Dispose of these items in the same manner as hazardous waste.
  • Encapsulate sharps (e.g., needles, razor blades, etc.) then place them in trash dumpsters.

14. Special Concerns

Employees who generate hazardous waste must maintain and control their hazardous waste accumulation areas. Special concerns for hazardous waste include the following:

  • Unneeded chemicals that are to be discarded must be handled and managed as hazardous waste.
  • Unknown chemical waste will be picked up by Environmental Health & Safety Department Departments will be charged for the chemical analysis to determine proper disposal method.
  • Gas cylinders are extremely difficult to discard. They should be returned to the manufacturer or distributor whenever possible. Cylinders that cannot be returned should be tagged as hazardous waste as soon as possible.
  • Photographic chemicals containing silver may not be placed in the sanitary sewer. They must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

NOTE: Some developing equipment has a filter to capture silver before the photographic effluent enters the drain.