Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 74.38
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 1, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

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 manner. There are also activities tied to these waste streams to reduce the volume generated as well as the volume disposed.

For calendar year 2016:
Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) totaling 125.2 tons for calendar year 2016 and carcass waste totaling 239.1 tons for the same period are treated and disposed of at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Waste Management Facility. The final product of the treatment processes there is a non-hazardous solid waste that is landfilled. Relatively small quantities of each waste stream (i.e., 0.6 tons of RMW contaminated with chemotherapeutic agents and 1.7 tons of carcass waste contaminated with plastic items in 2014) are shipped offsite for incineration via commercial disposal contractor. Cornell Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provides oversight of campus management of RMW.

Hazardous Chemical Waste, at the total of 44.972 tons, was generated in 2016. The chemical waste is collected by EH&S and processed at our 90-day facility; of the 44.972 tons, 14.23 tons were corrosive waste neutralized onsite through the Duffield Elementary Neutralization system and was not shipped offsite. 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 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 3282 lbs. of waste for calendar year 2016. 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.

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:

As a sustainability and waste minimization effort, Cornell University maintains a surplus chemical recycling program available for Cornell researchers. By using (and helping to promote) the surplus chemical recycling program, researchers can save money on chemical purchases and help to minimize chemical waste.

The chemicals available through the surplus chemical recycling program are in containers that are unopened or in very good condition. Chemicals available in the surplus chemical recycling program are FREE of charge!

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 electronic waste recycling program is a function of the University's solid waste and recycling operation, R5 Operations.

Electronics are collected during routine daily recycling collection stops, are collected upon request, and are collected during building clean-outs. Any staff member at the University may request an item be collected for recycling.

R5 Operations owns and operates a machine to degauss hard drives, as needed, prior to destruction.

Accepted electronics include, but is not limited to: Monitors, CPUs and hard drives, keyboards, circuit boards, cables, mice, printers, copiers, microwave ovens, televisions, cell phones, fax machines, power cords, extension cords, power strips, answering machines, fax machines, typewriters, pagers, cameras, VCR/DVD players, CD's, remote controls, and radios/stereos/tapes/records/8 track tape players.

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:
91.00 Tons

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

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.

2016 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.