Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
OP-21: Hazardous Waste Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Chris Pettinato
Executive Director
Environmental Health & Safety
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have strategies in place to safely dispose of all hazardous, special (e.g. coal ash), universal, and non-regulated chemical waste and seek to minimize the presence of these materials on campus?:

A brief description of steps taken to reduce hazardous, special (e.g. coal ash), universal, and non-regulated chemical waste:

Columbia has implemented several processes to reduce waste volumes. The University has a robust solvent recycling program for alcohol, xylene, acetone and ethanol at both the Morningside and Medical Center campuses. Used electronics, batteries, scrap film are recycled. Mercury-containing thermometers are exchanged for non-mercury thermometers in laboratories. Mercury-containing dental amalgam is filtered from the wastewater at Columbia-maintained faculty practices and clinics through the use of dental amalgam separators with a rate of over 99% efficiency. Silver halide is filtered from wastewater at all Columbia-maintained dark rooms through silver recovery traps.

Re-usable sharps collection containers are employed at most locations generating sharp waste. The containers are recycled up to 500 times, thus reducing plastic in landfills. Chemically contaminated glassware is crushed prior to disposal as nonhazardous waste, thus reducing the total volume.

Additionally, EH&S organizes several working groups to review safety and waste practices including Institutional Health & Safety Council and Chemical Tracking System Committee.

A brief description of how the institution safely disposes of hazardous, universal, and non-regulated chemical waste:

Columbia has a strict no drain disposal policy, which prohibits the discharge of hazardous, radioactive, mixed and nonhazardous waste down any drain on any campus. Additionally, the University only utilizes vendors that have gone through a rigorous preferred vendor process. This process includes a thorough regulatory compliance paperwork review, documentation archiving and in many cases an onsite audit. The University emphasizes disposal options that reduce our overall impact on the environment such as preferring: recycling, fuel blending or incineration to landfill disposal methods. Numerous training sessions are preformed throughout the year to advise researchers on how to properly manage their resulting waste streams. Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) also offers monthly safety classroom training sessions as required for laboratory personnel that includes proper disposal procedures.


A brief description of any significant hazardous material release incidents during the previous three years, including volume, impact and response/remediation:


A brief description of any inventory system employed by the institution to facilitate the reuse or redistribution of laboratory chemicals:


Does the institution have or participate in a program to responsibly recycle, reuse, and/or refurbish electronic waste generated by the institution?:

Does the institution have or participate in a program to responsibly recycle, reuse, and/or refurbish electronic waste generated by students?:

A brief description of the electronic waste recycling program(s), including information about how electronic waste generated by the institution and/or students is recycled:

The University has collection points at each campus for electronic waste generated by the institution. Materials generated institutionally are brought to the Facilities-maintained storage areas for consolidation and disposal through a vetted recycler on a regular schedule. This disposal occurs at least monthly at the NYC campuses and as needed at the satellite campuses. Additionally, the University hosts a semi-annual recycling event at multiple campuses where used electronic waste collection centers are set at the campus level, which generates a large amount of e-waste.

University supplied electronic mobile devices are collected for recycling by CUIT.

Through Columbia’s Surplus Reuse program, departments can find a matching recipient to receive old working computers to keep them out of the landfill. Computers are matched to other units within Columbia and to local, community organizations partnered with Columbia Community Service. Additionally, several departments have donated computers to various non-profit organizations.

Students can drop-off for reuse old working computers less than 5 years old with their power supply 10am-6pm Monday through Friday at 202 Philosophy. Students must first run DBAN to wipe their hard drives before donation.

Is the institution’s electronic waste recycler certified under the e-Stewards and/or Responsible Recycling (R2) standards?:

Electronic waste recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill or incinerator during the most recent year for which data is available during the previous three years:
75 Tons

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Additional information about hazardous materials reduction and recycling is available at:
Battery Recycling:
Electronic Recycling:
Lab Glassware Recycling: http://ehs.columbia.edu/RecycleGlassware.html
Lamp/Light Bulb Recycling:
Mercury Recycling:
Sharps Recycling:
Silver Recovery: http://ehs.columbia.edu
Solvent Recycling:
Radioactive Waste Management:
Hazardous Waste management by Campus: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/5LAll.html
Drain Disposal Policy:
EH&S Safety Committee:
EH&S Safety Training Options:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.