Waste is a large contributor to the CO₂ out put of laboratory spaces. Much of what is used in the lab is automatically considered contaminated and placed in biohazard bins sent for incineration. This incineration results in vast amounts of CO₂ emissions and other toxic fumes released into the atmosphere, let alone being very expensive for institutes. 

The sustainable science community challenges people to really determine what is and what isn’t contaminated and put in place protocols to allow for the reduction, reuse and recycling of lab waste where possible.

• Incorporate the 5 R’s- Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Reform & Recycle

• Ensure all labs have options to recycle non-contaminated paper and plastics

• Use lab introductions and signage to educate people on whether the items are contaminated or can be recycled

• Search for companies offering minimalised packaging on products or take back schemes to reduce the amount of waste entering your labs

Plastic waste

Plastic waste in academic biomedical sciences is estimated to account for around 2% of global plastic waste. Incorporating the 5 R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Reform & Recycle, and by putting Refuse first and Recycle last, help to take actions to try to reduce the amount of waste entering and leaving the lab.

Stickers & Posters

• Erasmus plastic poster PDFs: WhatWhere

•  Lab plastics poster – UCL

Other waste

General lab introductions and signage can help people feel confident that their waste is not contaminated and can be diverted to the correct recycling routes instead of for incineration. Easy access to different waste routes ensures time and effort are not barriers in reducing your labs waste output.

Background info

Biomedical waste management PDF – Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology

Best practice guides

How to reduce waste in the Laboratory  – My Green Lab

•  Reducing Lab Waste One Experiment at a Time – BitesizeBio

Stickers & Posters

Sticker and poster templates  – Bristol and Edinburgh Universities

•  Non-hazardous recycling poster – UCL