Styrofoam coolers are widely used for cold shipping materials used in life science laboratories. How to recycle these coolers is a question that frequently comes up for our labconscious readers. Styrofoam is recyclable but the availability of this service is rarer due to the cost of transporting 100% of its volume to a facility, to recover only 3% of plastic. That's a lot of air space!
The quick informational video below does a great job explaining why innovation is needed at the point of use and disposal for Styrofoam materials. Let's face it. This is a problem encountered with Styrofoam items by scientists and non-scientists alike. The video also quickly covers why paper is not always recyclable - and can actually be responsible for greater energy expenditure than in the "life cycle" of Styrofoam items.
Our Labconscious supporter, New England Biolabs is a life science company that has a Sytrofoam shipping take back program for its customers. Unfortunately this type of service is not applicable for research institutions that need to ship their own materials which are biohazardous. In this case, either a fully biodegradable cold shipper, or a point of use Styrofoam recycling system would be ideal solutions!
Best wishes on all your lab bench results! Thank you for thinking about running a green lab. Follow our blog and our twitter account for labconscious news.
Our thanks today to green lab champion Elicia Preston who is a research scientist and lab manager in John Murray’s Lab in the Genetics Department at the Perelman School of Medicine! The following interview and their accompanying “how to” video provide the information you need to use glass petri plates to reduce plastic waste in your laboratory.
When you leave a freezer door ajar in your kitchen, what happens? The refrigerator beeps, right? This warning is a simple and effective signal to avoid a problem. Behavioral scientists might describe that “beep” as an auditory prompt. It’s a cue to help people extinguish an unwanted behavior. The MASH alarm works in a similar way. The device beeps after no motion is detected for three minutes at a hood when the sash has been left too far open.
Yes, reducing life science lab waste is a challenge in today’s recycling environment. But please don’t feel overwhelmed and alone on this issue! Today’s green lab tip is a video that perfectly captures the significant experience of people who have implemented lab solutions that work.
Biological assays have been shifting towards miniaturization for some time, increasing lab work efficiency and enabling high throughput. From genomic sequencing in research laboratories, to molecular diagnostics in healthcare settings, microfluidic device technologies have demonstrated a profoundly sustainable impact in bioscience. Their greatest effect has been in healthcare. Today’s green lab tip spotlights microfluidic technology as one of the most exciting areas in bioscience sustainability!
The vibrant color of turmeric has made it useful since ancient times as a cooking spice and clothing dye. There has been much interest in researching it’s potential as a disease therapy. This research focus has prompted labs to apply this low cost, non-toxic substance to tissue staining (1) and bioimaging (2) studies. While turmeric has not been certified by the Biological Stain Commission just yet, studies have demonstrated some good potential to replace synthetic dyes.
Quality control expert inspecting at curcuma in the laboratory
New England Biolabs and Labconscious invite life scientists and sustainability professionals to attend our Go green! Innovative practices for laboratory waste symposium. Science funding productivity and changes to worldwide recycling markets have been trending topics this year. Attend our symposium and get up to date on new solutions with environmental and economic benefits for life science work.
Not every scientist realizes that going green in the lab is not just eco-friendly,…it also improves scientific work! Informed scientists understand that green lab operations are designed to save time, while reducing the environmental and financial costs. Check out the latest outreach events!
Coomassie blue protein gel staining began in the 1960s, and it’s still a fan favorite in biology labs today. While less sensitive as a colormetric method than silver, or fluorescent staining, Coomassie has undergone a significant revolution in recent years. This post presents a few handy tips for this essential life science pigment.
Many scientific facilities are directing their scientists to utilize lab supplier recycling programs to help meet their sustainablility goals. The following list, with links, is meant to be a quick reference. It may be incomplete. Please send us the name of any other recycling program that you know of, and we will update this list.
A great advance in DNA synthesis efficiency has just been reported in Nature Biotechnology, that also eliminates solvent hazardous waste requirement.