The time is right for this startup
Over the past year most lab facilities in the Boston area were told by their recycling service providers that their plastic would no longer be accepted. This situation was prompted by the China import ban on recycling collections. Green Labs is a start up lab recycling service. Their goal is to make science more sustainable by recycling lab plastic, instead of sending it to the land fill. Their focus is currently on pipette tip box recycling.
Doctoral Candidate, CEO and co-founder, Brenda Lemos explained how current affairs were part of the the inspiration for Green Labs. “The China import ban on recycled plastics solidified the scope for us. The worldwide market for plastic production continues to increase. It is not going away”
Streamlining collections by accepting any manufacturer
Most pipette tip boxes are one time use, composed of high quality virgin polypropylene #5. Because these boxes technically fit into the biomedical category, recycling facilities that normally take PP#5 don’t want to deal with this stream. However lab workers know that these boxes are not normally hazardous. The boxes are essentially just a packaging material that is being wasted.
Green Labs received an Innovation seed grant through Brandeis University’s SPROUT and I-Corps program, funded by the The National Science Foundation (NSF). The purpose of these programs are to support entrepreneurial scientists. Brandeis University is one of only four I-Corps sites in Massachusetts.
The startup is currently servicing two Massachusetts research institutions and looking to add more. The pipette box collections can be from any pipette box vendor or manufacturer. This is a big advantage for scientific facilities because they won’t need to store numerous collections individually by vendor, or arrange for multiple collection pick ups. That saves time and space. Collections are crushed at a small facility in Acton, Massachusetts, then re-manufactured with injection molding.
Locally based recycling is more sustainable
“It’s really important to us to make the journey to recycling environmentally friendly. Given the collection, shipping and processing done by some recycling programs, the end result is not really environmentally friendly. We want to keep everything very local.” said Green Labs co-founder, David Waterman.
The end goal is for Green Labs to manufacture 100% locally recycled plastic products. These products might be something like autoclave trays that can be used by labs for many years. Products could also be useful to the general public - to facilitate science awareness. Polypropylene is recyclable multiple times - so products can be returned to Green Labs again for re-manufacture. Eventually Green Labs plans to expand the types of plastics that they collect. There is certainly no shortage of lab plastic in Massachusetts!
How would recycling work best in your lab?
Green Labs Recycling would like to learn how pipette tip box recycling would be ideally delivered to your lab facility. This is a viable solution with a team motivated to meet your service requirements. Scientists, facility staff and lab suppliers should visit the web site and contact Green Labs to offer insights!
Twitter and Instagram: @_greenlabs