The Sustainability Secretariat, throught the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety, promotes the implementation of the program for the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste from UANL entities to comply with the applicable environmental law. This program aims to classify, store, and manage waste transportation and final disposal in collaboration with companies certified by federal authorities, such as the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT)
According to the General Law for Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes, a hazardous waste is any solid, semisolid, liquid or gaseous material whose owner has disposed of in containers and it can be assessed or undergo treatment. It also contains at least one of the CRETIB properties (corrosive, reactive, explosive, toxic, flammable, biological and infectious).
Therefore, procedure guidelines on hazardous waste classification and collection have been delivered across UANL so that they can be used as a basis for developing the “Manual on the environmentally sound waste treatment” at each hazardous-waste-generating entity.
Some Official Mexican Standards that provide data on the proper identification, storage, and transportation of hazardous waste are mentioned as follows:
The UANL entities listed below are large generators of this waste; thus, they have integrated procedures for the handling and management of hazardous waste into their daily activities:
- School of Chemistry
- School of Dentistry
- School of Medicine and University Hospital
- School of Nursing
- School of Veterinary Medicine
- School of Public Health and Nutrition
- School of Agronomy
- Medical Technical High School
- University Health Center
- Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences
- Center for Innovation, Research, and Development in Engineering and Technology
- UANL Health Services
During the January-December 2017 period, 306.65 tons of hazardous waste were disposed of, of which 190.45 tons correspond to hazardous biological infectious waste (RPBI) and 116.2 tons of hazardous waste of chemical origin according to the current environmental regulations.
Biological and Infectious Waste
According to the NOM-087- SEMARNAT- SSA1- 2002 standard, biological and infectious waste is any residual material from health care services containing agents that can cause harmful effects on human health and the environment. It is classified into five types: blood, infectious cell cultures and strains, pathological waste, non-anatomical waste, and sharps.
In the period January-December 2017, 190.45 tons of RPBI were generated in the 12 aforementioned facilities, where 86% correspond to non-anatomical waste (disposable gloves, soaked or dripping healing material and disposable containers containing liquid blood), as shown in graph 1.
The proper transfer and confinement of this type of waste is carried out by duly accredited companies before the corresponding authorities. In such a way, that 100% of these are subjected to treatment or confinement as established in the current environmental regulations.
Another important point in waste management is to obtain the registration as generator of PR before the SEMARNAT, based on the average estimate of hazardous waste generated in a year, locating in the first instance the category in which they are (micro, small or large generator), the foregoing with the objective of carrying out the management of their PRs in accordance with current environmental legislation.
During the period January – December 2017, 15 university departments performed the procedures before this federal agency and obtained their Environmental Registration Number (NRA) with the support and advice of the DGASO to carry out this procedure.
It should be noted that small and large generators are required to have a temporary warehouse for hazardous waste that meets the following technical specifications: natural or artificial ventilation, explosion-proof lighting, gutters and spill containment pit, among others , in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations of the General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Residues (RLGPGIR).
The Faculty of Chemical Sciences since 1994 successfully established a hazardous waste management plan which has made it worthy to receive the Environmental Quality Certificate granted by the Federal Office of Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) (2010-2012) and which has been endorsed for three consecutive periods (2012-2014, 2014-2016 and 2016-2018).
On the other hand, there are other types of hazardous waste that are generated in homes, as well as in work centers, and are the expired medicines. According to current environmental legislation, this waste is classified as hazardous, so its disposal must be done through companies authorized by competent federal agencies (SEMARNAT and SCT), since these companies have the equipment and qualified personnel to apply the security measures necessary to carry out their transportation, treatment and / or final disposal.
Currently, the expired medication collection program implemented by the Ministry of Health through the Federal Commission against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) together with the Undersecretary of Regulation and Health Promotion of the Nuevo Leon Health Secretariat, aims to reduce risks of intoxication of people and damage to the environment. In this program the medicines are deposited in containers located in different collection centers such as pharmacies or health centers. Once collected, they are subjected to physical crushing processes and later sent to their final destination.
In order to support the collection and proper disposal of this type of waste, the UANL has several containers located in the University Pharmacy “Q.F.B. Emilia Vasquez Farias “of the Faculty of Chemical Sciences, the Medical Services Unit located on the campus of Health Sciences and the Medical Technical School. The expired medications are deposited by the university community and the general public in said containers, from where they are collected by personnel of the Ministry of Health, who is responsible for taking them to a collection center where they are separated from their primary packaging and then classified by therapeutic group and pharmaceutical form, to later be brought to final disposal with an authorized provider.
In the period January – December 2017, 556.2 kg of expired medicines were collected from the collection centers located in the university dependencies.