Laboratory waste is a huge environmental issue. A study in 2014 by the University of Exeter Sustainability and Waste and Resource Management offices, found that labs produce around 5.5 million tons of plastic lab waste each year with most of the waste coming from single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are items that are used once and then thrown away. They are not recyclable or reusable, so they end up in landfills where they take up valuable space and release harmful chemicals into the environment.
So how can we reduce or avoid producing this waste in the first place? One way is to switch to reusable items. For example, instead of using disposable plastic pipettes, use reusable glass ones. This might seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference. Another way to reduce waste is to purchase items in bulk. This way, you'll have less packaging to throw away, reduce your CO2 emissions, and you'll save money in the long run.
Laboratories are finding innovative solutions that not only meet their research needs but also increase eco-efficiency. Thomas Scientific is partnering with many suppliers to allow our customers to access these solutions in their labs. Some great examples are listed below.
The Kimberly-Clark RightCycle Program is a groundbreaking service that enables you to collect previously hard-to-recycle items, such as nitrile gloves, safety eyewear, and single-use apparel items, and have them turned into new consumer goods. Through this program you can:
· Reach your organization’s sustainability goals
· Divert waste from the landfill in support of zero-waste to landfill initiatives
· Give your used nitrile gloves, safety eyewear, and single-use apparel items a new life by aiding the creation of new consumer goods like flower pots, patio furniture, and plastic shelving
· Reduce your waste disposal costs
· Protect the planet for future generations
Labcon, a major supplier of disposable plastics, is also driving sustainability initiatives. We understand the important role single-use plastics play in scientific research. That’s why we’re proud to be able to offer our customers innovative, low-waste consumables that still provide reliable, high-quality performance.
Labcon has pioneered eco-efficiency in laboratory consumables – using less packaging, recycled plastics, and refillable packages. Labcon’s pipette tip reloading systems eliminate 90% of the packaging waste in typical products of their kind.
If you are looking for a way to make a small change, using more sustainable products is a great start. The ACT label makes choosing those products a little easier. Accountability Consistency Transparency label (ACT) is an Environmental Impact Factor Label, it is like an eco-nutrition label for lab products. Products are assessed and scored on several different environmental impact factors (EIFS) such as product recyclability, energy use, and sustainable manufacturing practices. For the assessment, an independent third-party audits product data on the manufacturing, shipping, use, and end-of-life. The scores are then published by My Green Lab, you can view the database here.
Finally, it's important to educate others about the importance of reducing lab waste. Spread the word about the problem and share some of the solutions we've talked about here. Together, we can make a difference.
Some other ways to reduce lab waste include:
· Reusing lab equipment
· Donating lab supplies to schools or other organizations
What are some ways your lab reduces waste? Share in the comments below!