Lab Waste

SUStainable Product catalog

It's important to consider the environmental impacts of products in your lab long before it comes time to dispose of them. To help aid in the decision making process, Office of Sustainability has developed a catalog of commonly used lab supplies and equipment and evaluated them based on their sustainability features. The catalog includes cleaning supplies, equipment, lab disposables, toxic substances, and packaging and storage. View the guide here.

LAB SHARE EVENT

Sometimes one lab's waste is another lab's treasure. The Cardinal Green Labs program holds a lab share event every fall and spring where labs can donate usable items that they no longer need and find some free items that they could use. 

The Virtual Lab Share will take place during the week of March 15-19th through Stanford's Reuse website. You can continue to post items on Stanford's Reuse website throughout the year, and arrange for a contact-less delivery. Be sure to report your participation in My Cardinal Green for posting and collecting large and small lab items to the website. 

Please note: The reuse site is for the reutilization of material on the Stanford campus and is not for personal use, including home office settings. The site is restricted to permanent university staff only - students, temporary staff, and affiliates do not have access. The complete instruction guide for the reuse website can be accessed using this link

Read the Stanford Report article to learn more about the lab share's impact on the community.

Free Lab Recycling Bins

Many lab items can be recycled, including pipette tip boxes, bottles and containers, and packaging materials. The Cardinal Green Labs program offers customized recycling bins to meet the needs of many different lab spaces. It provides small, five-gallon bins that fit nicely under the lab bench and have custom labels with common lab recyclables. These bins can be emptied into a larger bin serviced by Stanford's waste hauler, PSSI. All buildings have serviced recycling bins in their hallways. If a lab generates a lot of recyclables, it can also opt for a having one or more serviced bins inside the lab. The Cardinal Green Labs program can work with you to determine the best set up for your lab. Contact Annalise Di Santo (adisanto@stanford.edu) to get started.

Lab Glove Recycling

The Cardinal Green Labs program collects uncontaminated Kimberly-Clark nitrile gloves for recycling. Uncontaminated means:

  • Not used in a BSL3 lab and not used with a BSL2 agent
  • No contact with radioactive materials
  • Not used with acutely toxic materials
  • Not stained with hazardous chemicals and not used to clean up a hazardous chemical spill.

In 2021, Stanford earned an Environmental Impact Achievement award from RightCycle by Kimberly Clark for recycling the most gloves of any university in California. In total, Stanford recycled 1,727 lbs of Kimberly Clark gloves in one year! Help us bring that number even higher by starting a recycling program today for gloves in your lab!

View a list of glove recycling locations

Refillable Pipette tip Racks

Pipette tips are a common lab item that are used for transferring small volumes of liquid accurately, precisely, and sterilely.  Even though reducing the net number of tips used is not practical, labs can still reduce plastic waste related to pipette tips by reusing the boxes that hold the tips.

Many companies, such as the ones linked below, have reusable boxes that can hold pipette tip racks.  The refillable pipette tip racks are often a fraction of the cost and they require half of the plastic to manufacture. Consider ordering refillable tip boxes for your lab to save money and reduce plastic waste.
VWR – 70% cheaper
TipOne  – 30% cheaper when ordering in SmartMart
Ranin – Same price

Waste Sorting in the Lab

Make sure you are disposing of lab waste appropriately. See below for guidance on proper disposal of common lab materials, and you can visit EH&S's website for a more detailed list of how to sort common lab materials. 

Batteries: Environmental Health and Safety provides over 200 locations across campus for battery recycling. Find locations here.

Cardboard: Cardboard boxes should be recycled in the corrugated cardboard only bin. These are large bins located outside the building in the dumpster enclosures.

Chemicals: Environmental Health and Safety provides guidance on proper disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste. Unused chemicals can be donated to Stanford's Surplus Chemical Program.

Containers: Containers and bottles that did not contain hazardous materials can be recycled in the plastics, metal, and glass recycling bin. To determine if a container is clean enough to be recycled, follow Environmental Health and Safety’s decision tree.

Equipment and Supplies: Post excess assets on Stanford’s REUSE web portal, which allows departments to transfer excess equipment between each other. Check the portal before buying any new lab materials. Non-functioning equipment can be disposed of through Stanford Surplus Property Sales

E-waste: Environmental Health and Safety provides over 150 locations across campus for recycling of small electronic devices. Find locations here.

Pipette Tip Boxes: Can be recycled in the plastics, metal, glass recycling bin.

Plastic Film: Soft plastic film packaging should be recycled in the paper bin.

Styrofoam:  Expanded polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) is a very difficult material to recycle and cannot be disposed of in Stanford’s regular recycling bins for plastics, metal and glass. However, here are some other options:

  • New England Biolabs and Sigma-Aldrich have Styrofoam shipping container take-back programs. All you need to do is re-seal the container and drop it off at any U.S. Postal Service drop-off location.
  • Drop off Styrofoam packing peanuts at the Menlo Park UPS store (325 Sharon Park Dr.)