‘Disposal Days’ cleans up the laboratory
By Catherine Hurley, Sustainability Program Manager, PMO
Argonne’s Disposal Days made a meaningful impact on cleaning-up the laboratory and identifying legacy chemical waste for disposal thanks to great teamwork and a focus on safety during the lab-wide clean-up event in July. From July 21-28, more than 90 tons of materials was collected and disposed of. More than 70 percent of the material was recycled.
The positive impact of Disposal Days was realized at 35 buildings across the laboratory, helping to reduce clutter and material stored in active work areas and common spaces. The most popular items for disposal were obsolete industrial or laboratory equipment, furniture, electronics and scrap metal. In total, 140 over-sized pallets of electronics were processed and sent to Fermilab for recycling, representing 30 metric tons of electronics. Disposal Days also filled 17 dumpsters of scrap metal, representing 36 metric tons of material recycled.
Teamwork was a key to success for Disposal Days. Research and support staff worked with building managers, ESH coordinators and subject matter experts to identify and prepare materials for disposal. Waste Management personnel worked with waste generators to write up waste requisitions for legacy chemicals. Rigging, Grounds and Custodial staff collected material, many working extended hours and on two Saturdays to address the large volume of requests. Identified by their forest green vests, ambassadors from FAC, NWM and PMO Divisions provided additional customer service and helped eliminate fly-dumping of waste in hallways, common spaces and dumpsters.
Disposal Days focused on safe work and embedded safety into all aspects of planning and implementation. Guidance was developed on how to safely prepare and handle the non-hazardous and non-radiologically impacted equipment and materials that were eligible for disposal. All staff involved in the operational aspects attended a Safety Briefing the Friday before pick-up activities began. Daily safety reminders were discussed with staff throughout the week. Work was completed safely and there were no incidents as a result.
The outpouring of interest in Disposal Days was evident by the large number of Vector requests received. In total, 335 vector requests were submitted for non-chemical items, representing roughly 7,200 items to be disposed. An additional 192 vector requests representing over 7,500 items were submitted for chemical waste, which are being processed for pick-up by NWM over the next few months. This high level of engagement was greater than expected and not all items were able to be collected during Disposal Days.
Materials (other than chemical) awaiting disposal under Disposal Days will continue to be picked up in the coming weeks and months by the riggers until all requested items are collected. Your patience is appreciated as we work these activities into regular operations and continue safe work practices. If you have any questions about your pick-up status, please contact your building manager. Please note that all property items will need an approved ANL-8 form in order to be picked-up.
Disposal Days showcased the laboratory’s ability to work together and set aside time to clean up areas critical to our safe work. The impact was widespread thanks to the attention that all employees gave to this important activity.
Disposal Days Lessons Learned Wanted
Lessons learned are being collected to inform safe disposal day activities in the future. Send your lessons learned or other Disposal Days feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. One lesson learned already received is from Infrastructure Services Deployed Safety Resources related to the re-use of items identified for disposal. Read the full lesson learned for more information.
Some before-and-after examples: