Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 58.08
Liaison Kristi Wiedemann
Submission Date March 13, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Princeton University
OP-25: Hazardous Waste Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Stephen Elwood
Associate Director
Environmental Health and 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:

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) manages hazardous and non-regulated chemical waste disposal, and University Building Services manages the disposal of universal waste including fluorescent lamps, electronics and rechargeable batteries. The University’s Purchasing Department manages a surplus equipment program that includes various types of electronics, including computers, monitors, etc. The surplus equipment program finds reuse opportunities for such items. Those items not fit for reuse are managed as universal waste.

EHS continuously pursues waste reduction techniques by working directly with lab research staff and through collaboration and benchmarking with environmental compliance staff at sister institutions. All laboratory workers are asked to consider pollution prevention opportunities for all of their operations. This includes reducing or eliminating chemical use and chemical waste production. For example, EHS has a long standing mercury thermometer exchange program by which laboratories are encouraged to exchange mercury thermometers for non-mercury varieties (e.g., digital, alcohol/spirit filled) at no cost.

Additionally, EHS considers the most environmentally beneficial treatment method for the hazardous and non-hazardous chemical waste that is generated. Spent flammable solvents, for example, are shipped for ‘fuel blending’ whenever possible. This program ensures that flammable liquid with high BTU value is burnt as industrial fuel rather than simply incinerated for waste destruction. Further, unused surplus chemical reagents are offered for reuse whenever possible to minimize chemical waste disposal. EHS encourages laboratories to install under-the-counter lab glass washers. This significantly reduces the use of solvents for cleaning, rinsing and drying of glassware.

EHS now prohibits the use of thermal stills in laboratories. The “push columns” that replace these stills drastically reduce the amount of unusable solvent, saving us from several drums of solvent waste each year.

EHS encourages just-in-time delivery of chemicals in research laboratories to avoid stockpiling chemicals. In the arts, our Visual Arts department has eliminated the use of solvent-based thinners and metal-based paints.

For art studios within our residential colleges, EHS prohibits solvent-based thinners, metal-based paints, metal-based glazes for ceramics, and any other material that would result in hazardous waste generation.

Over the past several years nearly all of the photo developing labs have been eliminated and replaced by digital studios.

Universal wastes are minimized through purchasing standards that preclude the purchase of mercury containing fluorescent lamps. The so-called ‘green tip’ or ‘green lamp’ purchasing program is campus wide and ensures only low-mercury lighting is purchased for use in University buildings.

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

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) manages hazardous and non-regulated chemical waste disposal and has done so since the creation of the US EPA and the onset of disposal regulations. EHS maintains the chemical waste program and takes great care to ensure both hazardous and non-regulated chemicals are disposed of properly and in full compliance with Federal and State of New Jersey regulation. University Building Services manages the disposal of universal waste including fluorescent lamps, electronics and rechargeable batteries. The waste management programs are routinely inspected by NJ Department of Environmental Protection and by private environmental compliance consultants hired by the University.

EHS holds contracts with two environmental firms to safely and conscientiously dispose of our chemical wastes. EHS reviews the disposal methods and chooses the most environmentally sustainable method at treatment/disposal companies that have maintained a high level of compliance. Periodically, EHS audits these firms to ensure that they are meeting our criteria.

EHS has established procedures for those who use chemicals for collection of chemical waste. EHS periodically inspects all laboratories and other areas where such wastes are generated to ensure compliance. Our environmental firms are onsite at least twice a month to collect hazardous waste.

Building Services and Purchasing administer contracts with firms for disposal of universal wastes. Before these firms are contracted, EHS arranges for an environmental consulting firm to conduct an audit of the company to ensure that they are managing waste in a manner consistent with our environmental goals and with environmental regulations.

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

MacMillan Gasoline Spill (12/7/2011) – a pump malfunction at the MacMillan Building (Facilities/Grounds and Buildings Maintenance) gasoline filling station caused a leak to occur within the pumping unit unbeknownst to the operator. The spill would have been contained to an interior overflow tank; however, protective plugs installed to prevent water intrusion during installation of the underground tank were never removed upon commissioning of the system. As a result, the gasoline flowed out of the pump unit onto the paved surfaces adjacent to the station. The leak wasn’t initially detected because of heavy rains. The overall quantity spilled was estimated to be 1-5 gallons. The impact to the surrounding environment was limited due to the quick action of the employees in and around the station. That said, some of the fuel was carried into adjacent storm water management areas with the rain runoff. Contracted emergency response personnel arrived to remove the contaminated standing rainwater and also performed decontamination of the storm water management drains, piping and outfall. No further action was required by the State of New Jersey.

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

While there is no campus-wide inventory system, EHS encourages laboratories to report their surplus chemicals. EHS then posts the availability of usable chemicals on a listserv that is distributed to all principal investigators and lab managers.

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):

The University's Surplus Program utilizes an online surplus database, in which departments may enter the electronic equipment information. Once an item is entered into the surplus system, the Surplus Program will take possession of the item(s) and is responsible for advertising for reuse/sale, display, pickup, and ultimate disposal of the item(s).

Students can recycle their electronics in a campus “curb-side" collection program. Items collected include computers, televisions, cell phones, MP3 players, PDAs and other peripherals.

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

The University's Environmental Health and Safety department reviewed in detail the Surplus Program and has audited the practices of the electronic recycling service via site visit to ensure that the company had appropriate worker safety and environmental standards in place.

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.