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The purpose of this program is to ensure that Colgate University is in compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to the handling, storage, and disposal of solid (hazardous), radioactive, and biological (medical) wastes.
Chemical waste may be disposed of in several different ways. Flammable and reactive liquids and solids are usually incinerated. This is the preferred disposal option, because it destroys the chemical and its associated hazards. Water based solutions can be treated at wastewater treatment plants designed for this purpose. Some materials may be landfilled, but this option has been made illegal by the EPA for most chemical wastes. This "landban" has significantly increased costs for incineration of chemicals as demand for incinerator use has risen and few new incinerators are permitted (there is currently a ban on new incinerator permits). Consequently, nearly all of the hazardous waste generated at Colgate is sent to a commercial hazardous waste incinerator or permitted fuel blending facility. The cost of disposal ranges from about $1 to more than $5 per pound. Responsible purchasing practices, effective recycling, and on site treatment strategies have the potential to contain costs for the near future. See also, waste minimization.
The University is classified by the NYDEC as a Small Quantity Generator meaning that we generate less than 100 kg/month of hazardous waste and less than 1 kg/month of acute waste (P-listed waste). Since we contract for disposal on a yearly cycle, we can never store more than 6000 kg of waste or 1 kg of acute hazardous waste. If we exceed these quantities, our classification changes bringing more stringent requirements. It is up to each individual using hazardous materials to minimize or eliminate hazardous waste generation. The use of alternative chemicals which do not have to be treated as hazardous waste when they are discarded and reducing the size and scope of laboratory experiments to control the amount of waste produced are effective options.
The chart that follows shows the flow and the decision making tree for laboratory waste at Colgate. As the front line generators of hazardous waste, laboratory supervisors have a legal and moral responsibility to properly manage the wastes generated as part of their laboratory operations.
Click individual shapes for definitions, procedures, or more information.