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CHEMICAL TRACKING PROGRAM
Summary:
A chemical tracking pilot program has been implemented in the University of Michigan (U-M) Department of Chemistry. Initial results of the pilot program are promising. Continuing evaluation of current hazardous waste generation data from the Chemistry building is being performed to determine the overall effectiveness of the pilot program.
Applicable Regulations
40 CFR Parts 260-268.

State of Michigan Act 451 Part 111.

Overview of Procedure
Chemical tracking systems offer major advantages to waste minimization through sharing of chemicals, inventory control, and potential recycling of chemicals. The structure of the program involves tracking all chemicals being used and stored in laboratories as a method to reduce unnecessary purchase and disposal of chemicals by making existing chemical stocks available.

Upon procurement, chemicals are added to the database by common chemical name, quantity, hazard class, and storage location. An individual in need of a particular chemical has the ability to access the database to evaluate what is currently in stock prior to ordering a new bottle.

Waste Minimization Procedure
A team from Occupational Safety & Environmental Health and the Department of Chemistry selected a software package based upon its technical capabilities and ease of use.

Existing stocks of chemicals are entered into the database noting the type and quantity of chemical, hazard class, and specific laboratory where the chemical is being stored. New chemicals are entered into the existing database upon receipt. As individual chemical stocks are depleted, the chemicals are removed from the database.

All chemicals are tracked using a bar-code system. As the data is entered into the computer, a bar code is printed with a personalized chemical identification code. The code can be scanned with a hand held scanner linked to the computer to obtain information about that specific chemical.

Known Limitations
The cost to develop a chemical tracking program is two-fold, the most obvious being the purchase of a computer software program and possibly related hardware. Development of the program also requires personnel be made available to coordinate implementation and continuation of the program. Limited staff resources may hinder completion of the task. However, the amount of money saved by decreased chemical purchases and waste disposal costs may justify the purchase of computer software and hardware, as well as hiring an individual specifically to manage the program.

Safety & Health Precautions/Personal Protective Equipment
Follow all applicable safety and health protocols and regulations as established by your institution.

Benefits
The objective of the chemical redistribution project is to reduce the quantity of chemicals being disposed of as waste and reduce the amount of new chemicals purchased.

Disadvantages
It is unknown at this time how well the program has been accepted by Department of Chemistry researchers due to questions regarding product quality.

Project Related Costs
Due to this project being in the pilot stage, not enough data has been generated to provide a formal cost benefit analysis. An initial capital investment of $18,000 was required to purchase the chemical tracking system software and hardware.

Labor costs associated with start up of this project were approximately $22,000 over a period of twenty months. This cost includes training, familiarization with software, and cataloging existing chemical stocks. The costs are representative of two employees working approximately fifteen to twenty hours (combined) weekly. Costs should level out with time to reflect the effort required to enter newly acquired chemical stocks into the system, and remove expended chemicals from the inventory.

At this time insufficient data is available to present cost savings associated with reduced chemical purchase and disposal from the U-M Department of Chemistry.

 

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