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Plastic Waste in Life Sciences Laboratories

Tackling Waste: 5 Steps to Less Plastic Waste in the Lab

| Author / Editor: Dr. Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt* and Julian David Senn** / Dr. Ilka Ottleben

Replace – what else can we do?

Thermo boxes made of polystyrene are often used in the transportation of refrigerated products, and in some cases they are also taken back and reused. There are now also a number of alternatives that use natural pulps or agricultural waste such as straw as the insulation material [25], one example being the “Landbox” from Landpack. The refrigeration hold times are comparable to thermo boxes made of polystyrene [25].

The US company Ecovative has used the fungus mycelium to coat forestry waste products like wood chips, which are held together when the fiber-like parts of the mycelium fungus mix together with the wood chips, and the resulting compound also displays temperature-regulating properties [26]. In an attempt to develop this method further, a group of students at Leuphana University Lüneburg is currently researching a fungal-based insulating material that can be produced solely from regionally procured waste [27].

Many small steps combining to achieve a great effect

Rethinking our use of plastic products and making sure they are used sensibly, pursuing active recycling strategies and constantly looking out for alternatives — a mixture of the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle — can already help to reduce waste. This not only saves space, but also disposal costs and helps the environment. Whether the “zero-waste” laboratory will ever become a reality in the future is probably an academic point for now – but people are working on this as well [28].

Sources and Links:

[1] Urbina M A, Watts A J R and Reardon E E 2015 Nature 528 479

[2] Geyer R, Jambeck J R and Law K L 2017 Science advances 3 e1700782

[3] http://2017.igem.org/wiki/images/a/aa/T--TU_Dresden--GHG_emissions_calculator.xlsx

[4] https://www.starlabgroup.com/DE-de/sldocument/download/344900_1

[5] http://www.labcon.com/productdesign.html

[6] https://international.neb.com/monarch/monarch-nucleic-acid-purification-kits

[7] https://bitesizebio.com/25950/reducing-lab-waste-one-experiment-at-a-time/ (abgerufen am 15.10.2018)

[8] https://www.eventscribe.com/2017/posters/slas/SplitViewer.asp?PID=NzExNDU4NTEwNA

[9] https://www.grenovasolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/TipNovus-PCR-Validation-Results.pdf (abgerufen am 19.09.2018)

[10] https://www.grenovasolutions.com/wp-content/uplo (abgerufen am 19.09.2018)

[11] https://www.starlabgroup.com/DE-de/pipettenspitzen/tipone-pipettenspitzen_WebPSub-155869.html (abgerufen am 23.10.2018)

[12] In dieser Broschüre wird das Recyclingschema erklärt (exemplarisch für das System in UK): https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.124891!/file/STARLAB-RecyclingBrochure-Update-Jul-11.pdf

[13] University of Washington Lab glove recycling delivers results https://green.uw.edu/blog/2016-07/lab-glove-recycling-delivers-results (accessed 20 Sep 2018)

[14] https://www.labmanager.com/business-management/2017/01/where-the-rubber-glove-meets-the-road-to-a-more-sustainable-lab-#.W8UKBPmYTRY

[15] https://www2.kcprofessional.com/brands/kimtech/rightcycle

[16] https://www.terracycle.de/de-DE/brigades/einmalhandschuh-recyclingprogramm

[17] https://www.vitlab.com/de/suchergebnis/?tx__%5Baction%5D=search&tx__%5Bcontroller%5D=Search&cHash=1ab268dd2dab43ad9f8bc33406d430ed

[18] https://www.carlroth.com/de/de/Laborbedarf/Laborglas%2C-Gef%C3%A4%C3%9Fe%2C-Verbrauchsmaterial/Reaktionsgef%C3%A4%C3%9Fst%C3%A4nder/Reaktionsgef%C3%A4%C3%9Fst%C3%A4nder%2C-Recycling/p/0000000700009833000b0023_de

[19] EU-Kommission 2018 COM/2018/028: Eine europäische Strategie für Kunststoffe in der Kreislaufwirtschaft

[20] https://www.the-scientist.com/careers/life-scientists-cut-down-on-plastic-waste-64547

[21] Umweltbundesamt 2012 Untersuchung der Umweltwirkungen von Verpackung aus biologisch abbaubaren Kunststoffen (Dessau-Roßlau: Umweltbundesamt)

[22] https://www.buerkle.de/website/var/assets/catalog/de/2018/html/162/ (abgerufen am 24.09.2018)

[23] http://www.labcon.com/productdesign.html (abgerufen am 24.09.2018)

[24] http://labcon.com/downloads/Labcon2018recycleguide.pdf

[25] https://landpack.de/produkte/isolierverpackung-aus-stroh (abgerufen am 24.09.2018)

[26] https://shop.ecovativedesign.com/products/mycofoam-cooler-box-lid (abgerufen am 24.09.2018)

[27] Leuphana Universität Lüneburg Studentisches Forschungsprojekt: Pilzmaterial als innovativer Dämmstoff:https://www.leuphana.de/news/meldungen-forschung/ansicht/datum/2018/08/24/studentisches-forschungsprojekt-pilzmaterial-als-innovativer-daemmstoff.html (abgerufen am 24.09.2018)

[28] Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária Reducing scientific research waste production: Can we recycle lab plastics for 3D printing? https://experiment.com/projects/reducing-scientific-research-waste-production-can-we-recycle-lab-plastics-for-3d-printing (accessed 24 Sep 2018)

[29] Jambeck J R, Geyer R, Wilcox C, Siegler T R, Perryman M, Andrady A, Narayan R and Law K L 2015 Science (New York, N.Y.) 347 768–71

[30] Lebreton L et al 2018 Scientific reports 8 4666

[31] Barnes D K A, Galgani F, Thompson R C and Barlaz M 2009 Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 364 1985–98

[32] https://act.mygreenlab.org/about.html

[33] http://2017.igem.org/Team:TU_Dresden/iGEM-goes-green/Resources#guide

[34] http://www.labconscious.com/green-lab-supplies-and-lab-equipment-guide/#lab-waste/

[35] https://www.mygreenlab.org/

[36] http://niub-nachhaltigkeitsberatung.de/index.php/dienstleistungen-niub

[37] https://www.b2bseminare.de/alle-seminare/forschungs-und-laborprozesse-nachhaltig-ausrichten--ihr-weg-zum-green-lab

* Dr. K. Hermuth-Kleinschmidt: NIUB-Nachhaltigkeitsberatung, 79112 Freiburg, Germany, *J. D. Senn: Leuphana University Lüneburg, 21335 Lüneburg, Germany

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