All that plastic in the lab - our tips to reduce your environmental footprint

The 3 Rs strategy — reduce, reuse and recycle — can be applied everywhere, so why not in laboratories as well? Admittedly, it is a challenge in this environment, but it is not impossible. In addition to the original three Rs, we present R numbers 4 and 5: Rethink & Replace and look forward to read your suggestions!

Reduce

Plan your experiments carefully. Waste minimization begins when planning an experiment. If you are going to do PCR, first assign the number of specimens to be analyzed, then do calculations and prepare master mixes. It’s a convenient and time-saving procedure and you’ll need much fewer pipette tips and tubes than before. Good for your budget and for the environment!

Label properly. It’s simple but containers are often not properly labelled and become unknowns. This is a costly disposal.

Reuse

A high proportion of plastic waste is generated by disposable, single-use products like pipette tips or reaction tubes. Of course, these products are indispensable in your day-to-day work, but there are options for reusing some of the resources:

Refill old tip boxes with pipette tips purchased in bulk. It’s usually much cheaper and better than meditation to refresh your brain between experiments!

Use glassware instead of plastic, wash and autoclave it.

Recycle

It is perfectly normal to separate waste into different garbage containers at home — “green” bins, bins for paper or cardboard recyclables, bins for glass, aluminum and even plastic. The situation is often different in the lab, where waste is not always recycled and instead ends up in the general residual waste… Make an effort there!

Rethink and Replace

Are biodegradable plastics a solution? What else can we do?

I cannot wait to read your e-mail with further suggestions how to reduce plastic waste in the lab >> The most useful tips will be published just before Christmas holidays!