Pollution Prevention and Waste Minimization

The Environmental Programs Division supports the University commitment to engage in pollution prevention activities and to promote practices that maximize beneficial effects and minimize harmful effects on the surrounding environment through efforts to prevent pollution by minimizing the kinds and amounts of waste generated on campus.

Pollution Prevention

Waste Minimization

The first and most important function of a hazardous waste management program is to minimize the amount and kinds of wastes generated. The effectiveness of this function is a shared responsibility between the individual generators and OESO. Current opportunities to minimize wastes being generated at Duke include:

Pre-purchase Considerations

Too many of the chemicals shipped as waste are unused. While, it may be common to order larger quantities to take advantage of volume discounts, disposal costs generally overshadow the savings gained by over ordering. Persons ordering chemicals should purchase only the amount of chemicals which are reasonably needed.

Inventory Control

Chemical inventory control systems can prevent the purchase of chemicals that already exist. This reduces purchase time, purchase cost, and disposal cost. Implementation of an inventory control system across an entire department has the potential to create even greater savings in time and money. Laboratories or others with unused or expired chemicals should contact the OESO Environmental Programs at 684-2794 who can collect such chemicals for disposal or reuse.

Volume Reduction

Chemical users can minimize the volume of waste produced by utilizing "micro" volume methods whenever possible. By reducing the aqueous components in samples, the total amount of waste generated for disposal will be reduced. Segregating hazardous and nonhazardous wastes can reduce the total volume of hazardous wastes.


One of the best strategies to minimize waste is to change the process that generates the waste. Such process changes may include: switching from hazardous to non-hazardous chemicals, changing concentrations of highly hazardous chemicals, or switching to electronics whenever possible. Replacing mercury-containing equipment such as thermometers or barometers with electronic equipment is an example already utilized.

Surplus Chemical Exchange Program

OESO Environmental Programs manages a surplus chemicals exchange program. Unopened chemicals are collected, stored, and made available for redistribution elsewhere free of charge. The surplus chemical exchange is located at 017 Medical Sciences Research Building (basement level near the loading dock). A current inventory of chemicals is posted on the door of Room 017, or inquiries can be made by telephone to OESO EP.