Environmental Health & Safety Sustainability Report
Hazardous wastes generated by the Las Cruces campus are directly managed by Environmental Health & Safety. Campus operations, instruction and research programs generate a wide variety of hazardous and special wastes.
Recycling Special Waste
Although EH&S cannot control the types or volume of wastes being generated, we do strive to recycle as much as legally possible. Special contracts are established for the routine waste streams including mercury containing bulbs, equipment such as thermostats, and non-PCB transformers. The mercury, oils and metals are recycled to the extent possible.
Other wastes like the mine tailing must be tested and qualify for special waste landfill, the alternative being hazardous waste incineration. Chlorofluorocarbons are hazardous wastes generated from chiller decommissioning, however, by hiring a specially licensed contractor. The CFC’s were recycled saving $6,000 in disposal expense.
Similar recycle for reuse was effected for a hazardous compressed gas cylinder. Recycling small volumes of these types of wastes requires additional effort because of the additional research, testing, coordination and various contracts required. Environmental Health & Safety staff seeks to find these alternate solutions and dedicate the additional effort in a commitment to sustainability at NMSU.
Reducing hazardous waste costs
The average cost per pound of hazardous chemical waste varies by more than 10 fold. EH&S contains the cost by researching and combining similar waste types so that 90% of the chemical waste can be shipped in bulk containers for disposal. The cost of bulk waste this year was $0.62 per pound compared to $6.01 per pound for lab pack waste which is shipped off without additional handling. The cost savings from bulking 90% of the chemical waste was $276,000 in saved disposal fees.
Reducing hazardous wastes
EH&S provides training on hazardous waste management at some level to all employees of NMSU through the Employee Safety class. One component of this and other safety training emphasizes utilization of less hazardous chemicals and provides examples.
- A Professor in the Biology department reported that he had switched to the safer non-hazardous dye used routinely in molecular biology laboratory protocols. Utilization of this new product reduced the hazardous waste generated by that laboratory operation.
- Recycled used chlorofluorocarbons generated from an old chiller that was being removed from service. This generated income for the recycled chemical which was returned to the department and reduced the amount of waste to be disposed.
- The hazardous compressed gas cylinder that was returned to the manufacture reduced the amount and cost of disposal as hazardous waste.
- Established a business procedure that requires departments to obtain approval from EH&S prior to acquiring hazardous materials that may be a component of donated equipment.
Train all employees working with hazardous materials in safety, proper disposal, and accountability for wastes generated. Over 1000 employees attended classes in 2009 that specifically focus on chemical safety, appropriate waste management and current issues.
Environmental Management System &
Internal Assessment for Pollution Prevention
EH&S committed support for the development of an Environmental Management System in two areas of NMSU operations. EH&S identified historical waste streams produced by the different Facilities Operations and two areas were selected for in-depth review. EH&S provided recent waste accumulation site inspections with recommendations to improve compliance which included use of a bioremediation complex to remedy minor oil spills.
For more information on how you can help manage hazardous waste and on NMSU Sustainability effort please see
- Reducing NMSU hazardous waste
- Environmental Health & Safety website & Safety Program
- Sustainability Council
This report in pdf is available on the EH&S website at http://safety.nmsu.edu/faq/2010/2009_EHS_SustainabilityReport.pdf