Category Archives: recycling

Plastics in labs: from waste management to management of resources

posted on July 29, 2014

The use of plastics in laboratories is often regarded as a factor contributing to pollution-derived damages in natural environments; the reasons pointed are the inefficient current disposable methods and the difficulties associated with effective recycling of a wide variety of consumables, some of which contaminated. Critics say it is ironic that research performed to better understand and protect nature and living beings can lead to such negative impact on ecosystems. Pollution originated form laboratories has finally become a serious matter of debate and new solutions for sustainable use of consumables and correct waste disposal are required. The MIT‘s initiative Working Green at MIT – Green Your Lab is one such example and it is highly significant that most Institutes, Hospitals and Universities share the same concerns. The Health and Safety Offices are usually the places to go for more information on the waste disposal policies of Science-oriented Institutions.

But can we go as far as to turn plastics into assets? The future is now and the answer is definitely yes. Old plastics can turn into new and valuable materials. It’s not recycling as we know it; these processes resemble re-making. Below I have compiled a list of companies – only a few examples, it is not a comprehensive list at all –  that are expected to contribute with bright solutions to a more eco-friendly use of plastics. Or at least so they are claiming (you can decide by yourself if you believe those approaches are the way forward; then please share your thoughts with us!). The new solutions are clever, technologically advanced, and… based on research performed in labs. More irony: it seems as if plastic has contributed to refinements in its own life cycle.

If the near future can bring Green lab consumables, these will lead to Green research, which can then be oriented towards Green discoveries.



Plastics in labs can be a source of pollution or become a source of energy through the use of newly developed “recycling” strategies. Credits:


Agilyx –  this company is expected to have” a significant impact in the reduction of the disposal of non-recyclable waste plastics, while creating a new source of domestic energy” by “converting previously non-recyclable and low value waste plastics into crude oil”;

Cynar – contributing to the European Union’s objective to achieve Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2020, Cynar claims that the “conversion of waste plastics to useable fuels” is the “alternative and complementary technology to existing waste management technologies”;

RES Polyflow – focusing on renewable energy, this company “makes energy products from difficult to recycle polymer and rubber waste that is destined for landfills or incineration” using “patented fuel conversion equipments” so that landfilled “plastic waste is reduced significantly”;

NIKE – yes, the sports giant has used state-of-the-art recycling technology in its bottles-to-T-shirts operation: for the just finished 2014 World Cup “An average of 9 recycled bottles emerged as a 2014 National Team Jersey”.