Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.33
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 1, 2024

STARS v2.2

Cornell University
OP-20: 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. Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) and carcass waste are treated and disposed of at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Waste Management Facility. The final product of the treatment process is a non-hazardous solid waste that is landfilled. Relatively small quantities of each waste stream are shipped offsite for incineration via commercial disposal contractor. Cornell Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provides oversight of campus management of RMW. Chemical waste is collected by EH&S and processed at our 90-day facility; Corrosive waste is reduced through our onsite 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. All radioactive material is controlled by EHS using a single point entry and exit. EHS 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 EHS 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: https://ehs.cornell.edu/manuals/hazardous-waste-manual

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. R5 Operations serves, faculty, staff, and students for all University Departments on the Ithaca Campus. R5 Operations also accepts electronics from Cornell facilities across NYS. 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. 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. For electronic waste generated by students, R5 Operations has a drop off location on the central campus at the Cornell Police Department, ensuring the safety of any digital information. Additionally, electronics are picked up by R5 Operations from any campus location upon request, electronics are collected through the periodic e-scrap drives and collected through the annual Dump-and-Run program. The Cornell Store also has electronics buy-back programs through Apple and Dell.

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

Website URL where information about the institution’s hazardous waste program is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about 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. 2023 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.