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Environmental Protection Performance

A member of the Environmental Health and Safety team checking the barcode on a chemical bottle.

Chemical Safety Program

A student wearing green rubber gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat while working in Ryerson’s chemistry lab.

Ryerson University uses 17,000 chemicals in both its academic and research activities. To provide an institutional framework for the use of chemicals, EHS developed a comprehensive Chemical Safety Program based on extensive stakeholder feedback with three faculties who use chemicals most frequently:

  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Communication and Design
  • Faculty of Engineering and Architecural Science

The program fully aligns to the new WHMIS 2015 legislation that came into effect December 1, 2018.

Ryerson University uses 17,000 chemicals in both its academic and research activities.

A departmental safety officer using a wrench to tighten the valves on equipment in the chemistry lab.

A comprehensive safety program

Graphic representing the comprehensive safety program. Components explained in section to follow.

Hazardous Waste Disposal

Chemicals being safely disposed in Ryerson's darkroom.

Ryerson University has approximately 500 wet labs, and shops, that use chemicals, biological and radioactive materials in academic and research work. Since 2015 EHS centrally manages hazardous waste at Ryerson, which includes ensuring environmental compliance.

With the growth of the university and an increase in research, both our volumes and cost of hazardous waste disposal have increased over the years. To address this evolving and growing need, in 2018 EHS negotiated two new waste disposal contracts that will result in cost savings over the next three years.

Ryerson University has approximately, 500 wet labs, and shops, that use chemicals, biological and radioactive materials in academic and research work.

Cost of hazardous waste disposal

The chart indicates that we have had increasing cost of hazardous waste disposal over the last three years as the univeristy grows.

Year

2015 - 2016

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

Cost of hazardous waste disposal

$94,471.04

$135,117.74

$198,561.96

Implementing new environmental legislative requirement: Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) 

Two people wearing hard hats inspecting the fume hoods on the roof of a building on campus.

Recent changes to legislation allow lower risk emitters to bypass the lengthy approval process by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, allowing universities to submit the same type of documents through an online system. This new process is called the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR), external link which comes into effect when the existing Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) expires.

As part of Ryerson's EASR application, we will:

  • assess all our emissions on campus
  • conduct assessments for noise, odour, and air emissions
  • in some cases, develop and implement mitigation control plans.

This work is underway, with the aim to have our EASR registered by the end of 2019.

The university dealt with three small spills in 2018.

What happened

The environmental impact

Prevention

In two incidents, students used coloured dye to paint themselves and each other, while particpating in frosh week activities.

Both of these spills impact the environment in two ways - first, through discoloration, and second, when spills enter our waterways they have the potential for ecologically and water treatment system impact. “Impact” in the regulation is defined as anything that changes the environment from its natural form.

The spills were reported to the legislators, and both the Ministry and City of Toronto were satisfied with the quick response and action from Ryerson on both spills. We also implemented controls to prevent future similar recurrences.

Inadequately packed research packages containing biohazardous waste water were shipped to Ryerson. Due to biodegradation these packages combusted and created a spill.

The spill itself had a biological impact, as did the residual of the disinfectant used to address the spill, which had to be disposed of carefully.

This biohazardous event triggered a review of the overarching management of biohazardous materials used in research applications at the university. The Institutional Biosafety Committee will be implementing stricter controls for any work involving raw sewage and municipal wastewater in 2019.

Work is currently underway with the aim to have the EASR registered by the end of 2019

Advancing environmental protection performance: Collaborating with Ontario universities

A wide shot of Ryerson's building across campus.

Ryerson launched an informal Ontario-wide universities environmental networking group. The group meets in person quarterly to discuss sector-specific solutions around sustainable environmental programs. This networking group has also featured guest speakers the from Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Air Emissions Experts and OECM.

Three meetings were held on campus with participation from:

  • Brock University
  • Guelph University
  • Ontario College of Art and Design
  • Queen’s University
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo
  • Wilfrid Laurier University
  • York University

Ryerson launched an informal Ontario-wide universities environmental networking group