Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
OP-20: Hazardous Waste Management

Status Score Responsible Party
1.00 / 1.00 Keith Duval
Health and Safety
Environmental Health & 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:

Pitt's primary strategies to reduce hazardous waste are as follows:

1) Order only the volume of chemicals that are needed. The cost of chemical disposal often exceeds the price of purchasing the chemical.
2) Label all bottles and containers in laboratories (to reduce the number of unknowns).
2) Date containers when received and use older chemicals first.
3) Use less hazardous or non-hazardous chemicals for experiments when possible.
4) Prepare only the amount of solutions/mixtures needed for experiments.
5) Use spirit-filled thermometers instead of mercury thermometers when possible.
7) Scale down / back experiments that produce hazardous waste.

These Pitt Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) guidelines are intended to ensure that chemical users on campus are aware of the importance of source reduction and waste minimization. Benefits of source reduction and waste minimization include increased safety of personnel, reduced risk of environmental contamination, and a decrease in chemical and waste disposal expenditures.

Pitt's Office of EH&S has prepared and implemented a source reduction strategy, which describes ways to reduce or eliminate the amount or toxicity of waste, including the following minimization activities:

1) Product Substitution:
Use less hazardous or non-hazardous materials. Examples include substitution of enzymatic cleaners and detergents for chromic acid cleaning solutions, replacement of flammable and or toxic solvents with water-based materials, replacing mercury thermometers with spirit filled or electronic thermometers, and using latex paints in place of oil-based paints.

2) Microscale Chemistry:
Scale down techniques where possible to reduce waste.

3) One More Step:
When possible, all reactions should be taken one more step, if the additional step will result in a less hazardous material without an increased safety risk. (refer to “Destruction of Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratory” by George Lunn & Eric Sansone, 2nd Edition, 1994 (Wiley)).

4) Waste Segregation:
Ensure appropriate segregation. Keep non-hazardous wastes out of the hazardous waste streams.

5) Education:
All chemical users should attend “Chemical Hygiene” training. EH&S offers additional waste minimization guidance through this program.

6) Inventory:
Maintain an accurate inventory of chemicals. Ensure that all containers are accurately labeled to ensure that “unknowns” are not generated.

7) Chemical Redistribution:
Utilize the EH&S Chemical Redistribution Program to donate or request unused surplus chemicals.
Learn more: https://www.ehs.pitt.edu/chemical-redistribution-program

8) Purchasing Practices:
Only purchase in useable amounts.

9) Other Techniques:
Elementary chemical neutralization, improved inventory control practices, and good management and training are all techniques which can be utilized to minimize waste.

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

All hazardous waste, universal wastes, and non-regulated chemical wastes are disposed of via third-party vendors who are licensed to transport, treat, recycle, and/or dispose of the wastes. EH&S is charged with program management regarding regulated waste disposal and has long-preferred treatment methods in the following order: recycling/reclamation, fuels blending, waste to energy, chemical/physical aqueous treatment, incineration. Secure landfills are last on the list and utilized as a last resort when necessary and safe.

When Pitt’s most recent hazardous waste contract was re-bid in 2020, EH&S collaborated with the Sustainability team on the request for proposals.

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:

The University of Pittsburgh’s Chemical Redistribution program emphasizes the University's commitment to the environmental protection by reducing the overall volumes of chemical waste generated. Pitt’s Chemical Redistribution Program provides faculty and staff with the opportunity to donate and obtain chemicals free of charge, helping reduce expenses for both purchasing and waste disposal. Unopened, unused, and uncontaminated chemicals in their original containers may be donated. A public list of chemicals available for redistribution is available and requests from University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff are honored on a first come, first serve basis. At this time, the program is only available to the Pittsburgh campus.

Since its inception in 2010, Pitt’s Chemical Redistribution Program has successfully redistributed over 400 pounds of chemicals.

Learn more & find an inventory of chemicals available for redistribution: https://www.ehs.pitt.edu/chemical-redistribution-program

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 University of Pittsburgh has 18 public locations to collect dry cell (household) batteries of any size or type. Collection units have been placed around campus and can be used for dry cell batteries along with cell phones and iPods. Large volumes are handled as electronic waste (described below).

Cell phones can also be recycled at any campus computing lab or at the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (153 Benedum Hall)

Learn more about battery & handhold electronic recycling: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/zerowaste/ (middle of page)


Electronic waste generated from across the University of Pittsburgh is collected by the University's Pitt Surplus Property Services. “Electronic waste” includes unwanted, broken, and/or obsolete computers, monitors, televisions, audio equipment, printers, laptops, fax machines, telephones, and other electronic equipment.

Surplus Property picks up electronic waste across campus free of charge, assesses the value of the waste, and takes appropriate next steps. The waste is either refurbished for sale, donated to nonprofit groups, or sent to a certified third-party electronics recycling provider (ELoop, who is a Certified BAN e-Steward (ISO 14001) Recycler).

Pitt students are also annually provided with an opportunity to recycle personal electronic waste during RecycleMania / Campus Race to Zero Waste at strategic drop off locations are strategically staged throughout campus. Additionally, if batteries and/or electronics are left behind / donated by students departing the residence halls at the end of the academic year (known at Pitt as Clutter for a Cause), they are responsibly disposed of as described above.

Learn more about Pitt Surplus Property: https://www.pittsurplus.com/
Learn more about Pitt electronics recycling: https://www.pittsurplus.com/Site/Ewaste
Learn more about third-party provider ELoop: https://www.eloopllc.com/

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:

Pitt's electronics recycling for the past four years includes the following diversion counts:

2017 - 41.5 tons
2018 - 38 tons
2019 - 37.3 tons
2020 - 18.5 tons (reduction due to lower campus density during Covid-19 global pandemic)

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.