You do not expect a prestigious school to do something so stupid. Drew University, of Madison, N.J ranked as number 79 of the best Colleges by US News and World Reports, was fined $145,000 by the US EPA for not properly managing hazardous waste in 2007. While only 30 miles from Manhattan, Drew University is set in a wooded 160 acres. Despite this pristine setting, the University haphazardly stored dozens of containers of paint, wood stains, enamels and adhesives in a manner that failed to minimize releases to the environment. The containers were stored outside and on the ground. Some were in close proximity to residential housing and a pond and many containers were open and could have easily spilled their contents or leaked into the ground. The University also failed to properly identify discarded materials such as mercury, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, formic acid, and nitric acid as hazardous wastes.
Drew University’s problems highlight an important issue. Some of the hazardous materials in question were paint, wood stains, enamels and adhesives. These are items that many of us have around the house or workplace and do not realize are considered hazardous materials. Many other common items, such as window cleaner, radiator fluid, batteries, cleaning supplies and fluorescent light bulbs are also hazardous materials. It is important for all of us, either at home or at work, to learn to recognize hazardous materials and to both store and/or dispose of them properly. This is key to all of our efforts towards sustainability. If you are not sure what items in your home or business are hazardous materials, you can contact either your local recycling authority, your state Environmental Agency or the EPA. Many have educational materials available on their websites.
Drew University could have avoided these problems with one phone call to Maxi Container. We carry a full line of safety cabinets and other facilities management products that are approved for the proper storage of hazardous materials. We also carry a full line of secondary containment products which, if properly used, would have prevented any release into the environment. Maxi also carries numerous lab packing materials, including 20 gallon poly overpacks and vermiculite which would have allowed for disposal of both the maintenance and laboratory hazardous waste in an appropriate manner.
Do not make the same mistake as Drew University. Sustainability includes recognizing hazardous materials both at home and at work and taking steps to manage and dispose of them in an environmentally sustainable manner. Maxi can help! Give us a call toll free 1-800-727-MAXI (6294).