Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.69
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 8, 2013
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Cornell University
OP-21: Hazardous Waste Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Spring Buck
R5 Manager
Facilities Operations
"---" 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:

Cornell University's Environmental Health and Safety department operates chemical waste management program that collects these wastes from campus generators. This program includes generator training, pollution prevention efforts, and careful consideration of disposal options to minimize environmental impacts associated with these wastes.

Each type of hazardous waste is handled and processed differently, but in a safe and compliant manor. There are also activities tied to these waste streams to reduce the volume generated as well as the volume disposed.

For calendar year 2011:
The largest biological waste stream generated is Regulated Medical Waste (RMW); it totals 109 tons a year. The Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department provides oversight of campus management of RMW. The Vet College treats infectious carcasses on campus; this process does not require them to be transported off campus for treatment, because the final product of the process is a non-hazardous solid waste.
The second largest waste stream is Hazardous Chemical Waste at the total of 58.037 tons a year. The chemical waste is collected by EH&S and processed at our 90-day facility. There is also waste that does not meet the definition of hazardous waste, but for the safety of the environment is not suitable for drain or trash disposal. These types of waste are handled by the contractor and processed to reduce the environmental impacts prior to disposal.
The campus has a variety of programs and processes to track and reduce the chemicals used in the lab. The first is the surplus chemical recycling program, which takes un-used product that labs no longer need. The items are stored by EH&S and posted to an on-line site that labs can view and request items from. The chemical inventory system varies on campus by location, the most complete being the chemistry department. They have a central procurement system and location, then distribute chemicals to the labs and track their disposal via bar code.

The third waste stream generated on campus is radioactive waste, which totals 2.9 tons of waste. All radioactive material is controlled by EH&S using a single point entry and exit. EH&S recommends the procedures outlined in the Radiation Safety Manual methods for surveying radioactive waste, this process reduces the waste to only material with detectable radioactivity. Any material that does not meet the definition of radioactive is disposed of only by EH&S as solid waste. Any waste that has a half-life of 90 days or less is held on-site for decay. Once the material has decayed a minimum of 10 half-lives and meets the disposal criteria is disposed of as solid waste minimizing the amount of radioactive waste generated. The waste that is shipped off has two processes to reduce volume. One waste stream is incinerated for volume reduction and burial and the other is used for energy recovery. The volume of radioactive waste is small compared to others, but is highly regulated and weighs heavy on public perception.
Website Information:
Hazardous Waste Manual: http://sp.ehs.cornell.edu/lab-research-safety/chemical-safety/hazardous-waste-manual/Pages/default.aspx

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

Cornell University Health and Safety Policy establishes EH&S as having the responsibility for administering Cornell’s chemical waste management program and establishing policies and procedures for proper chemical waste management. This program is fully described at the URL provided below.

The website URL where information about hazardous materials management is available:

This program complies with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requirements, including submission of annual waste generation and waste minimization reports which describe these impacts in quantitative detail.

2009 Waste Minimization Report Letter cannot be attached, but is available by emailing Spring Buck at scb23@cornell.edu.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.