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THE MANAGEMENT AND COST OF LABORATORY WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH: Report of a Workshop disposal for researchers who generate waste, beyond the “indirect charges” that all researchers in a university pay for other purposes. Others have avoided direct chargeback because they are concerned that this would lead to such acts of noncooperation by researchers in the waste-management process as, unauthorized and potentially harmful discharges into the normal wastewater stream. Some universities are beginning to require that environmental costs be part of the budget provided to research-funding agencies. Additional management actions include conducting bids each year for waste-management services and establishing direct relationships with waste-disposal firms, rather than using “middle men.” Research laboratories have begun to take a number of cost-controlling actions such as substituting less-toxic, more easily disposable materials for the ones currently used. In addition, many types of equipment are now miniaturized, so smaller quantities of chemicals are needed for experiments; this is especially true in a teaching setting in a chemical laboratory, for example. Store managers are also buying chemical materials “just in time,” so there is no need to store hazardous materials for long periods. Specific steps that have been taken to reduce the need for waste management include attempting to “package” waste better, rather than relying on contractors whose incentive is not necessarily to reduce costs in the research laboratory; reducing radioactive-waste generation; increasing contractor oversight; storing radioactive waste for decay or incineration; focusing waste-reduction activities on the most expensive waste streams; and establishing an inhouse waste-management team, rather than relying totally on outside contractors. Some research facilities have begun to establish on-site disposal facilities that some researchers think will be able to help in containing costs. Faculty, researchers, and managers have begun to acknowledge the cost of waste management and have an increased dedication to reducing the cost of waste disposal. Specific actions have included education newsletters, award programs, and setting of cost-reduction goals. Visits to and oversight of individual laboratories help researchers to understand waste-management issues and keeps them “on their toes ” with respect to internal regulations. Overall, research institutions have begun to see that compliance with environmental regulations is another, growing cost of doing business. A number of barriers to cost-controlling actions are described in the previous sections. In particular, regulatory limitations on accumulating waste for more than 90 days and on the commingling of wastes are important, as are restrictions on dealing with substances that are hard to dispose of or are unknown. ISSUE 4: WHAT CHANGES COULD BE MADE IN THE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH OR THE TRAINING OF RESEARCH PERSONNEL TO IMPROVE MANAGEMENT OF MIXED, CHEMICAL, RADIOACTIVE, AND BIOHAZARDOUS WASTE? Research institutions have been able to improve the conduct of research relative to environmental considerations. Dissemination of knowledge of new techniques among research institution could help to reduce adverse environmental impacts of research.
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