Laboratory Waste and Recycling

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The recycling of disposable/single-use laboratory plastics and PPE in biological sciences is an enormous challenge.

The main problems:

  • Challenge of contamination – often regarded as non-recyclable
  • Different materials (e.g. pots and lids) may require recycling in different streams

These articles in The Biologist and In Practice give guidance on tackling plastic and healthcare waste.

Where to start:

  • When considering a Recycling plan, institutional support is vital. Consider potential cost benefits.
  • Determine whether plastics used are recyclable. Are there alternatives? Check with your waste contractor as to what their recycling policy is and what materials they accept. Consider finding a recycling partner.
  • Reviewing materials used should be considered – changing suppliers may reduce the number of materials to be dealt with and may also reduce volume of waste.
  • Ask your supplier of plastic materials if they have a recycling policy or offer a recycling service.

Recycling and waste disposal is a complex and fast-changing area where it may be useful to bring in outside assistance from a company specializing in sustainability support.

Some companies specialise in hard-to-recycle items.

Terracycle personal-protective-equipment

Guide to which plastics can be recycled

Recycling laboratory and office equipment

There are commercial options available. Lab equipment can also be donated to developing countries.