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NIH Environmental Management System

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General Waste

* Please note there have been temporary changes to the waste management services on the Bethesda ​campus. Click here to view the full details of the changes.

NIH waste management programs cover comprehensive waste services at the NIH, organized around the following waste streams:
  • Chemical Waste
  • Multihazardous Waste
  • Radioactive Waste
  • Medical Pathological Waste (MPW)
  • Recycling
  • General Waste
The key goals of the NIH waste management programs are to: maximize the amount of waste that gets recycled, recovered, or beneficially reused; reduce the amount of toxic chemicals purchased and used at the NIH; provide prompt and effective service in support of the NIH research​ mission; comply with all applicable waste regulations; and avoid unnecessary chemical wastes through smaller quantity orders.
The NIH Waste Disposal Guide​ is your first-step resource for hands-on understanding of NIH Waste programs and the role of NIH staff in managing waste across all waste streams. The NIH tracks progress towards waste management sustainability goals on a yearly basis within the HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. Click here for the latest information and progress updates for NIH and HHS sustainability goals​.

General waste is waste material free of any apparent pathological/infectious, radioactive, or hazardous chemical contamination. Please note that most general waste can be recycled​!

At the NIH Bethesda Campus, the Office of Research Facilities (ORF) Division of Property Management (DPM) is primarily responsible for the oversight of waste collection (janitorial) services. The Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) takes the lead in the promotion and implementation of waste recycling programs. The NIH recycles various waste streams, including mixed paper, white goods, electronics, toner cartridges, glass/metal/plastic (#1, 2, 6, HDPE carboys and soft plastic bags only, Life Technologies Styrofoam), cardboard, yard waste, and wood pallets. NIH buildings are varied and unique. Factors such as available space for recycling containers, staff needs and interests are taken into account by DEP and the IC Green Teams when making recycling tools available.

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