EHS is responsible for managing regulated waste streams that could be harmful to the environment, including hazardous chemicals, mercury-containing lamps and equipment, batteries, and biohazardous waste. EHS collaborates with the offices of Sustainability and Energy Management and Academic Technology to manage electronic or e-waste.
Every year, billions of used batteries containing corrosives and toxic metals are thrown in the trash and end up in landfills. Due to the hazardous chemicals that batteries contain, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that they be properly managed and disposed of.
The New School has implemented a battery recycling program to encourage our community to do their part by collecting batteries for recycling. Batteries are collected in blue canisters placed around the campus (PDF).
When battery canisters reach a certain capacity, they are picked up by an authorized recycler, who sorts our battery waste by chemistry type for proper processing and recycles it. The recycling process consists of high-temperature metal recovery: batteries are drained and dismantled before being placed in a furnace, where paper, plastic, gel, and other nonmetals are vaporized at high temperature, leaving the metals behind for re-use.
Mercury-containing lamps and equipment
Certain types of lamps (bulbs), including fluorescents and high intensity discharge lamps, contain trace amounts of mercury, which is released into the environment when a lamp breaks. Mercury is toxic to humans and wildlife.
To ensure that mercury-containing lamps are properly managed in accordance with EPA regulations, The New School has partnered with an authorized waste contractor for recycling. The lamps are crushed and its components separated to end caps, clean glass, phosphor powder, and mercury. Recovered mercury is distilled and sold on the domestic market for reuse.
Electronic or e-waste contains hazardous materials such as mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. To protect the environment, regulatory agencies including the EPA and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) require that e-waste be recycled. Electronic equipment that must be recycled include computers, monitors, keyboards, mice & other pointing devices, phones, cameras, radios, televisions, etc.
The New School has revamped its e-waste recycling program to ensure we are following globally responsible (e.g., no exporting to developing countries) e-waste recycling standards. E-waste is donated for re-use to approved non-profit organizations by Academic Technology or disposed through our authorized e-Stewards certified recycler. In August 2013, The New School was recognized as the first educational institution in the Northeast to become an e-Stewards Enterprise, joining other institutions committed to responsible recycling of their e-waste.
Hazardous (chemical) Waste
Chemical products that are harmful to health and the environment are managed and disposed of responsibly. Hazardous waste is heavily regulated by the EPA. Hazardous waste are chemicals listed in the EPA regulations or those exhibiting these characteristics: toxicity, corrosivity, ignitability, or reactivity. Common examples of hazardous waste are oil-based paints, solvents (like acetone, paint thinners), oily rags, and aerosol cans. If you need to dispose of hazardous waste, contact EHS.
The New School’s hazardous waste program has ongoing initiatives to promote compliance. Important elements of the program are outlined below:
- Sink disposal posters (PDF) posted by every utility sink as a reminder of what shouldn’t go down the drain
- Posters of disposal rules (PDF) of hazardous waste posted in specific buildings where hazardous waste is generated (e.g., studios at Parsons East building)
- Use of designated disposal containers and fire safety cabinets located near points of waste generation (e.g., paint spray booths, and designated shops and studios)
- Labeling of hazardous waste containers (PDF). Labels are provided formatted for Avery 5163 labels.
- Training of students, staff, and faculty
- Disposal of hazardous waste through an EPA-certified Transportation, Storage, Disposal Facility.
Materials contaminated with infectious agents such as sharps (e.g., needles/syringes) and biological cultures and stocks from areas like Student Health Services and the Lang Interdisciplinary Science Lab are segregated into special containers, bearing the biohazard symbol, that are disposed of through a licensed waste hauler. Sharps are collected in leakproof, rigid, puncture-resistant containers which are usually red. Red bags and wide-mouth biohazard buckets are used to collect biohazardous materials that do not have sharp or pointy parts that can puncture or cut waste handlers.
There are sharps lockboxes in designated bathrooms
(PDF) in each New School building to promote safety and responsible disposal
of needles/syringes. Personal sharps containers called Fitpacks are now available through Student Health Services, EHS, and RA's offices in the residence halls.
Yellow disposal containers are provided to collect used blades for recycling. Note: These blades are not contaminated with infectious materials. Disposal containers are available in these locations:
- Dormitory art studios
- Parsons SDS Foundation shop
- Parsons AMT Printmaking shop
- Parsons SCE Furniture shop
- Parsons SCE Photography facilities
- Some studios (PDF) in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
- Parsons East building: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th floors