Hazardous or Special Waste is an important part of the waste stream. College campuses generate several types of these wastes that need to be disposed of properly. Some of these wastes are illegal to put in a landfill and are often regulated for proper disposal. Examples of these wastes include: chemicals (including lab and cleaning chemicals, pesticides, photography studio emulsions), items containing mercury (including bulbs, thermostats and switches), car batteries, antifreeze, lead foil, and electronics among other items. To dispose of these properly often requires research into laws and contractors/organizations that can legally dispose of these items. At the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, there is a Campus Environmental Health and Safety Department. This department works with certified hazardous waste contractors to assure that all hazardous waste items are being properly disposed.
The EPA states that regulations have streamlined hazardous waste management standards for federal universal wastes (batteries, pesticides, thermostats, and fluorescent tubes or lamps). The regulations govern the collection and management of these widely generated wastes. This facilitates environmentally sound collection and increases the proper recycling or treatment of the universal wastes mentioned above. Identifying hazardous and special wastes on a college campus is imperative to meet local, state and national laws while reducing toxic waste going into the landfill and thus our precious environment.