Polystyrene Boxes Recycling @ CUMC

Polystyrene foam boxes are used often in shipments of temperature-sensitive materials; their lightweight and insulating properties make them ideal for this purpose. Producing these boxes is highly resource-intensive however, and their plastic ingredients have an indefinite half-life in landfills (or oceans, or rivers).

To help limit the production and subsequent disposal of these boxes, EH&S, in cooperation with CUMC Facilities, is pleased to announce a recycling program for Polystyrene/Styrofoam shipper boxes. Bring clean, empty foam boxes (not the cardboard outer box), with the supplier’s return label attached, to any of the following locations:

CUMC Facilities Department personnel will arrange for the boxes to be returned for re-use.

The Tip of the Hazardous Iceberg

Many laboratory operations involve the need for  accurate transfer of micro liter quantities of liquids.  When filling wells on a plate for an assay, or loading a gel for electrophoresis, micropipetters are the tool most commonly called upon for these jobs.  With the use of micropipetters however, comes the use of micropipette tips and the need to properly dispose of them.  Furthermore, these tips are often generated in large numbers, particularly with the use of multi-channel pipetters.

Over time EH&S has received accident reports resulting from the improper disposal of these tips.  When discarded in large numbers and weighed down in a red bag or regular trash bag, the micropipette tips are quite capable of tearing through the bags and causing scratch or needle stick-type injuries.  These injuries can cause great anxiety to the injured and are easily preventable.  The safest outlet for micropipette tip disposal is in the regulated medical waste sharps containers.  These containers, which are also used for more traditional sharps such as   needles, scalpels, razor blades, and contaminated glassware, provide puncture-proof containment for the micropipette tips.

Tips can be collected in  bench-top beakers or other puncture-proof containers before being discarded into the sharps containers.  If used for the transfer of chemical materials such as ethidium bromide, phenol or chloroform, the tips can be temporarily stored in a puncture-proof container in the lab’s chemical fume hood to mitigate odors. Since there will be an insufficient volume of liquid leftover in the tip (negating the need for the tips to be collected as hazardous waste), these tips should be discarded in sharps containers and disposed of as regulated medical waste.

ChemTracker System audit results

During the summer of 2008 EH&S audited the ChemTracker System (CTS) in all Morningside laboratories. The audit found 30,264 containers of the total of 30,947 in the system. This translates to an identification rate of 97.8%,  a significant improvement compared to last year’s audit.

Thank you very much for your assistance in improving our chemical management system.

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