Points of Waste in the Lab

 When I’m at home I’m lucky enough to enjoy single-stream recycling; instead of having to sort my reusables I can simply put all of them into one container and my waste management company does the dirty work for me. But even before this was an option, I always spent the extra time and effort to rinse out my food containers, fold my cardboard, parse and sort every bit of recycling I could into it’s respective bin. As I look around the lab, all I can think of is: Why isn’t this the same here?

 Virtually everything I use in the lab - that hasn’t been contaminated by biological or chemical waste - derives from reusable material, but I see so little of it recycled! Most of the assay kits I order come with far too much packaging - and we can have that discussion later - but all of that packaging, from the styrofoam to the cardboard inserts, to the plastic boxes the pipette tips come in, is recyclable! Perhaps even more importantly, how many of these throw-away parts of the experimental process are derived from virgin materials?

 Offhand, here are some easy points where you can begin to divert reusables from the landfill:

  • cardboard boxes and assay kits

  • pipette tip boxes

  • styrofoam coolers and inserts

  • plastic wrapping and packaging

  • the plastic sleeves that biological pipettes come in

 Start moving these from the red bin to the blue bin in your lab. If you don’t have a recycling program, let us know! We’re busy compiling resources to help labs everywhere start recycling more often and better. If you’ve got waste that could be re-used, take a picture and share it on our Instagram @Labconscious, or connect with us on Twitter and follow us on Facebook!