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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
OP-21: 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. It specifies that "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 waste 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. See http://guru.psu.edu/policies/SY20.html
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

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.

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

The following six reportable incidents occurred on Penn State-University Park property during the 3 year period 7/1/13 through 6/30/16. An additional four incidents impacted Penn State property, but were not considered Penn State releases.
1. 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.
2. On January 9, 2014 in the pesticide storage building at the Athletic Field Maintenance Facility, a water line froze and broke open flooding the pesticides. There is a containment sump with that had some glycol added to it to prevent freezing in winter. Because facility personnel believed that some of the pesticides might need to flow to this sump, they pumped out 10-15 gallons of the glycol/water mixture to the ground. No pesticides entered the environment. The release was reported to Randy Farmerie on 1/9/14 with follow-up to Cheryl Sinclair on 1/10/14.
3. On September 2, 2014 an elevator in the Ritenour Building was discovered to have lost approximately 10 gallons of biohydraulic fluid through the cylinder. The elevator was taken out of service and the valve closed to prevent further release. The cylinder was drilled out and some oil staining was observed; the cuttings were properly disposed. The release was reported to Randy Farmerie at PADEP on 9/3/14.
4. On August 6, 2015, at the OMPEC Compositing Facility, a screen broke a hydraulic line releasing 55 gallons of hydraulic fluid to the soil/gravel area. The impacted soil was excavated and properly disposed. The release was reported to Randy Farmerie of PADEP on 8/6/15 (message) with follow-up on 8/7/15.
5. On 1/15/16, at Research West a piece of equipment connected to the chiller released ~30 gallons of propylene glycol to the stormwater system. The release was reported to Tom Randis at PADEP on 1/15/16.
6. On 2/16/16, at the University Park Airport, the 50,000-gallon waste glycol tank was overfilled releasing up to 1,200 gallon of propylene glycol mixed with water to the ground surface. The liquid was conveyed to the stormwater system, eventually discharging into Spring Creek. The release was reported to PADEP.

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 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:

Penn State Lion Surplus is responsible for the collection, sale and/or disposal of University-owned equipment, supplies and/or materials - including electronics - which have become obsolete, surplus or scrap to the needs of any University department. Items are disposed through resale, transfer to another department, or recycling. Some computers are sold through an on-site Computer Auction. Items that cannot be reused are sent to a certified recycler, currently Arcoa.

Lion Surplus also has an annual Electronics Recycling Day where faculty, staff, and students have the opportunity to drop off their used electronics for disposal in an environmentally safe manner.

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

Electronic waste recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill or incinerator during the most recent year for which data is available during the previous three years:
518 Tons

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Value for tons of electronic waste recycled is for 2016.

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.