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Hazardous Waste

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Stanford’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) arranges for removal of hazardous waste materials, with protocols that help prevent spills, discharge into wastewater and evaporation into the atmosphere. The user-friendly nature of the program protects human health and the environment by reducing the potential for accidents and improper disposal. Stanford also tries to limit the use of hazardous materials and chooses substitutes whenever possible.


Stanford’s research activities produce an estimated annual average of 390,000 pounds of hazardous waste (including containers for much of the lab waste). Hazardous waste from maintenance, utilities and remediation activities averages 172,000 pounds per year.

We use a variety of environmentally preferable techniques for managing hazardous waste, which include:

  • Recycling of solvent waste from research for off-site use as an alternate fuel in the vendor’s hazardous waste incinerator.
  • Neutralizing off-site acidic wastewater from research to make it non-hazardous.
  • Treating off-site silver-bearing photographic waste from research to recover and recycle the silver. (Due to ongoing conversion to digital imaging, the amount of this waste generated is decreasing.)
  • Recycling of oil used in research and maintenance.

EH&S works to minimize the use of hazardous materials and the production of related waste through the Surplus Chemical Program.

The Surplus Chemical Program

The Surplus Chemical Program finds and stores unused chemicals and makes them available to Stanford researchers at no charge. The program uses Stanford’s Chemical Inventory Management and Tracking System (ChemTracker), which is considered one of the most effective chemical inventory systems in the country; Stanford now offers ChemTracker to other educational and not-for-profit institutions.