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Minimization & Substituion

As a large quantity generator, Texas State University is required by Texas regulations to have a Pollution Prevention Plan to minimize waste toxicity and reduce the volume of waste generated. The following sections discuss how to minimize waste sources and waste products. Additional information can be found in the University’s Pollution Prevention Plan.

Waste Source Reduction Techniques

Use the following techniques to reduce waste sources:

  • Purchasing and Inventory Control
  • Use computerized tracking systems to manage purchasing and control inventory.
  • Maintain current inventory records to prevent overstocking and to monitor the shelf life of remaining chemicals.
  • Develop a campus-wide chemical exchange network to promote chemical sharing and avoid redundant purchases.
  • Negotiate with suppliers to gain volume discounts, flexible delivery schedules, and delivery of fewer small-sized containers without cost penalties.
  • Purchase quantities for immediate use only. Do not order quantities to obtain a special unit cost savings.
  • Obtain compressed gases from vendors who accept return of empty or partially full cylinders.
  • Include waste generation as criteria in equipment selection.
  • Rotate chemical stocks to use chemicals before their shelf-life expires.

Chemical Usage

  • Use lab procedures that assure the integrity of chemical quality.
  • Reduce spills and waste by pre-weighing chemicals for undergraduate use.
  • Require proper labeling of all secondary containers. Replace all deteriorating labels on primary and secondary containers.
  • Substitute less hazardous chemicals whenever possible (e.g., biodegradable scintillation cocktails instead of xylene or toluene-based cocktails).
  • Minimize the use of heavy metals (e.g., silver, chromium, mercury, barium, cadmium, and lead).
  • Substitute alcohol or electronic thermal monitors for mercury thermometers.
  • Use "No-Chromix", detergents, or enzymatic cleaners to clean laboratory glassware.
  • Minimize solvent waste by recycling or substitution.

Waste Minimization Techniques

Follow these techniques to reduce hazardous waste:

  • Do not mix different types of waste.
  • Do not put non-hazardous waste, such as a mixture of water, sodium bicarbonate, and acetic acid, into a waste container of hazardous waste.
  • Do not combine inorganic heavy metal waste with organic solvents waste.
  • Segregate halogenated waste solvents from non-halogenated waste solvents.
  • Segregate waste streams by storing them in separate waste containers. Store waste containers separate from reagent containers being used to avoid accidental contamination.
  • Decontaminate empty containers to make them non-hazardous.
  • Neutralize dilute acids and bases to make them non-hazardous and suitable for drain disposal (i.e. as long as no heavy metals are in solution).
  • When possible, redesign experimental protocols so that harmful byproducts are detoxified or reduced.
  • Recycle chemicals via purification.
  • Eliminate mercury compounds from laboratory experiments.
  • Use small scale experimentation or testing processes (microscale) or double up students in laboratory exercises.

May 2011
Reviewed November 2014