Hazardous Waste Minimization Plan

Policy Information
Policy TitleHazardous Waste Minimization Plan
Responsible OfficeEnvironmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
Policy TypeEnvironmental Health
Policy Number1014
Last Revision Date10/25/2023


This country generates approximately 200 million tons of hazardous waste each year. The American people, increasingly concerned about the disposal of these wastes, have demanded a reduction in the quantity and toxicity of hazardous waste that is generated. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires Binghamton University, as a large quantity generator of hazardous waste, to certify that we have programs in place to reduce the quantity and toxicity of the waste generated here on campus.


This Management Procedure is to remind all schools, departments, offices and individuals that it is university policy to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local environmental health and safety regulations. Generators of hazardous waste must continually review their procedures for purchasing, receiving, handling, storage, use, and disposal of hazardous chemicals with the goal of reducing the quantity and toxicity of waste generated. There are a number of techniques that can be used to help minimize the amount of hazardous waste generated. In addition to minimizing hazardous waste, many of these techniques are accomplished by good housekeeping and following safe laboratory practices.

Waste Minimization Techniques

  1. The first step to effectively minimize the amount of hazardous waste generated is to maintain a current inventory of all chemicals being used and stored in your lab or work area. Properly label all chemicals to prevent the generation of unknowns and use older chemicals first before they degrade or become contaminated. Use the chemicals you have on hand before ordering new chemicals.
  2. Only order the amount of chemicals that you will need in the immediate future. Although chemicals appear cheaper when purchased in large quantities, when the actual usage, storage, and disposal is factored in, the cost savings diminish significantly.
  3. Properly store your current chemical inventory.  Improper storage of chemicals can result in containers degrading, chemicals becoming contaminated, labels that degrade and result in the generation of unknowns, and chemicals becoming unstable and/or potentially reactive.
  4. Chemical containers should be dated when first opened.  This is useful for verifying chemicals that are past their expiration date and should be disposed of.
  5. Substitute less hazardous or non-hazardous chemicals for hazardous ones when feasible. There are a number of substitutes available for commonly used chemicals and procedures. When purchasing thermometers, select ones without mercury.
  6. Use recycled chemicals whenever possible. 
  7. When using lecture bottles and cylinders, determine if the manufacturer will take back the empty cylinders/lecture bottles before you place an order.  If at all possible, order only from manufacturers who will accept empty cylinder and lecture bottles for return.
  8. Investigate converting to micro-scale activities, which result in fewer chemicals needed for experiments and less hazardous waste generated.
  9. Follow the guidelines listed in the Binghamton University Hazardous Waste Management Guide.  Waste minimization techniques for specific waste streams are included in the guidelines.
  10. Dispose of unwanted or waste chemicals in a timely manner. If you no longer plan to use chemicals that you have on hand, or the containers are very old, properly dispose of the chemicals according to Management Procedure #1002. General rule of thumb: If you have not used a chemical in four (4) semesters, consider recycling or disposing of it.

If you have any questions regarding waste minimization techniques, contact the Hazardous Waste Program Manager at 607-777-2211.