Waste minimization

Hazardous waste regulations include requirements for waste minimization efforts, as noted in the table below. Efforts at pollution prevention, source reduction, recycling and reclamation can all fall under the umbrella of waste minimization. Some possibilities for minimization efforts include:

  • adoption of microscale techniques by laboratories
  • substitution of less hazardous and/or more recyclable materials in any application
  • laboratory solvent distillation
  • chemical inventory management
  • replacement of mercury thermometers with alcohol thermometers for most applications
  • changing management of parts washer operations

Also, the UW– Madison Laboratory Safety Guide has a chapter on "Pollution Prevention and Waste Minimization" that provides many more ideas.

Hazardous waste minimization: regulatory requirements

Generator category

Waste minimization requirement

Requirement met by

Large Quantity Generators

 

 

  1. Must have a written waste minimization program that reduces the volume or quantity and toxicity of their hazardous waste in an economically practicable manner.
  1. Written records of program kept by campus.

 

  1. The treatment or disposal method should be chosen to minimize present and future health threats.
  1. Terms and monitoring of the hazardous waste contract accomplish this goal. Wastes are treated under a management hierarchy, and treatment sites must be approved and are audited.

Small Quantity Generators

 

 

  1. Generator should be able to demonstrate they are making a good faith effort to minimize their waste generation.
  1. Demonstration of good faith effort is flexible. Program results, meeting notes, copies of emails or program publicity material could suffice.

Very Small Quantity Generators that use the hazardous waste manifest

  1. The treatment or disposal method should be the best available and that can be afforded
  1. Terms and monitoring of the hazardous waste contract accomplish this goal. Wastes are treated under a management hierarchy, and treatment sites must be approved and are audited.

Disclaimer

This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.
(Read full legal disclaimer.)