Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison Krista Bailey
Submission Date Oct. 20, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Pennsylvania State University
OP-25: Hazardous Waste Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" 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:

Penn State has had a policy requiring the reduction in volume or toxicity of hazardous waste since 1988. See http://guru.psu.edu/policies/SY20.html

"Departments that generate hazardous chemical wastes shall ensure that a waste reduction program is in effect and that it is being adhered to." The policy lists examples of ways to reduce by "making substitutions, purchasing smaller quantities, implementing a chemical inventory to prevent duplication, and integrating microscale techniques in inorganic and organic chemistry labs". The Senior Vice President for Finance and Business establishes and approves the policy and procedure for hazardous waste disposal within the environment of The Pennsylvania State University.

PSU also has several other policies that reduce universal and other non regulated waste. Other steps taken to reduce waste include:
- Chemical redistribution program
- Mercury Thermometer and Barometer exchange with non-hazardous equivalents
- Battery recycling
- Fluorescent bulb recycling
- Implemented university-wide chemical inventory software
- Microscale chemical use in all undergraduate chemical lab classes
- Laboratory chemical cleanouts
- Pesticide Program
- Solvent distillation units
- Beneficial use of coal ash

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

Penn State has contracts in place with fully licensed vendors for hazardous waste disposal, fluorescent lamp recycling, and waste oil recycling for the wastes generated at the University. The University works with our hazardous waste vendor to dispose of our waste, both hazardous and non-hazardous, using the following hierarchy in determining the disposal method; recycle, treat, stabilize, incinerate, landfill. The fluorescent lamp recycler recycles all parts (glass, metal, and mercury) of the fluorescent lamps. The waste oil recycler recycles our waste oil and also recycles or treats our glycol containing liquids, depending on the concentration of the glycol in the waste. The University has also started to use a compressed gas cylinder recycling company to recycle our “waste” compressed gases. Detailed information can be found here: http://www.ehs.psu.edu/hazmat/

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

Three reportable incidents occurred on Penn State-University Park property during the previous 3 years:

On July 28, 2013 at the Water Treatment Plant, a transformer developed a leak and lost 233 gallons of Envirotemp FR3 oil into its vault. The oil was mixed with water for a total of about 450 gallons. Eagle Recovery pumped out the oil from the vault and the conduit where it exited down the hill and properly disposed of it. Some soil was also excavated which was properly disposed. The release was reported to Jack McKernan and Cheryl Sinclair of PADEP on 7/28-29/13.

On 4/12/11 at United Rentals, while performing excavation for a wash bay, an abandoned, underground, rusted out tank was discovered. The tank likely was an oil interceptor used to collect material that entered floor drains prior to discharge in the sanitary system. The bedrock had been over-excavated to allow the tank to fit into the space. 18 tons of contaminated soil was removed and properly disposed. Soil samples show that the cleanup was effective. The release was reported to Randy Farmerie at the PADEP on 4/12/11.

On 5/20/11 at ARL, machinery from the gear facility was drained into the parking lot releasing approximately 50 gallons of ethylene glycol to the storm drain basin (facility personnel thought it contained water). No material was believed to leave the basin and it was shop vacuumed out of the basin and properly disposed. The release was reported to Denny Right at PADEP on 5/20/11.

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

PSU has implemented a university-wide, mandatory chemical inventory system – CHIMS. This is a software package purchased through Stanford. In addition, PSU coordinates a successful chemical redistribution program where faculty, through email, are provided a list of chemicals available from other laboratories. The University also encourages faculty that are leaving the University to give chemicals they are leaving behind to their colleagues at Penn State, as part of our laboratory close-out procedure.

Does the institution have or participate in a program to responsibly recycle, reuse, and/or refurbish all 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):

Lion Surplus collects all e-waste and wipes all drives. Hard drives are destroyed and computers are recycled through Creative Recycling. Penn State Lion Surplus also has an Electronics Recycling Day for Faculty, Staff, and Students.

A brief description of steps taken to ensure that e-waste is recycled responsibly, workers’ basic safety is protected, and environmental standards are met:

Re-usable parts are distributed to computer maintenance companies, hospitals, Fortune 500 companies, wholesale distributors, or retail stores to be resold. In step one, all equipment is cleaned, tested and redistributed with a 90-day warranty. All identification as well as data is removed from each complete system or part. KSA hosts computer shows and live computer equipment auctions for products and any equipment not easily sold.
In step two, all equipment is cleaned, tested and redistributed with a 30-day warranty. All identification as well as data is removed from each complete system or part.
Any product left over is deemed unusable and is scrapped. Metals are sorted and distributed.
In step three, all equipment is redistributed with no warranty (as-is). All identification as well as data is removed from each complete system or part.

Throughout the three steps the focus is to treat each piece of equipment as a reusable commodity, redirecting the flow of outdated equipment back into the marketplace avoiding landfills.

The website URL where information about the institution’s hazardous and electronic-waste recycling programs is available:

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.