By Hayley Ann Veal- Green Labs
In the last few weeks our group has gathered necessary data about each lab we will be conducting a waste audit in so we are more familiar with the types of waste to expect. We also developed a waste audit algorithm so we could be as efficient as possible and do our best not to disrupt the labs. After doing these things, we reached a milestone in our project! This week, our group conducted our first waste audit to calculate the percentage of the waste that could be recycled with respect to the total amount of waste in our sample size.
We gathered trash from four biomedical labs that share space in the Biomedical Sciences Research Building. We collected the waste of 2 bins from each lab and also 4 common waste bins within the lab’s shared space. The type of waste we performed analysis on varied categorically, but overall, the types of waste generated were fairly consistent in all four labs.
The item with the highest density of waste we collected were plastic pipette tips. One lab used over 300 hundred from the sample of waste we collected. We also saw a good number of other plastic items that could be recycled, such as pipette tip boxes, Kimwipe boxes, and assorted paper. If the resources for recycling and the responsibility of how to properly recycle were in place in these labs, they could recycle a lot more material and divert some plastics from ending up in landfills.
We plan to conduct another waste audit next week and then we can begin to apply our education and implementation programs to see what different types of programs result in the most recycling progress. We plan to give each of the four labs we recently conducted our audit in recycling bins and information on how to properly recycle lab materials and then conduct waste audits next quarter as well to compare the percentages of waste that could be recycled out of the total amount of waste and waste that is actually recycled out of the total amount of waste after we have implemented our recycling program through resources and education.
We chose to conduct our waste audits within the same building and within the same subject of science, biomedical sciences, to eliminate variables in our project so that the types of waste generated are consistent and to keep resource use relatively consistent (i.e. energy use in the building). We hope that that our project can be transparent so that future groups and/or peers at other schools could also conduct similar projects in different types of labs such as biological, psychological, or chemical labs.