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Lab Waste

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Sustainable Lab Products

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 and includes cleaning supplies, equipment, lab disposables, toxic substances, and packaging and storage. View the catalog.

Lab Supplies Share

Sometimes one lab's waste is another lab's treasure. While historically there has been a bi-annual lab share (where labs can donate usable items that they no longer need and find some free items that they could use), to maximize an on-going lab exchange of items and/or materials we are encouraging the use of Stanford ReUse, our institution-wide site to post and claim items across campus. You can continue to contribute to the reuse and share economy by posting items on Stanford's ReUse website throughout the year, and arrange for a contact-less delivery. 

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. View the ReUse Site instruction guide

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 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 Green Labs program can work with you to determine the best set up for your lab. Visit our connect page to get started.

Lab Glove Recycling

The Green Labs program collects uncontaminated, non-hazardous nitrile and latex gloves, including non-Kimberly Clark brand, and sends them to Ingenium for converting the glove waste to energy. 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!

Glove Recycling Locations

 Building Room Building   Room
1070 ArastraderoRoom 147Hoover TowerReceiving/mail room
Bass BiologyAutoclave room on the basement level LaneSecond floor corridor, next to room L216
BeckmanIn the basement, by the elevatorLokey Stem Cell (SIM1)G1113 linear space outside room G1123
Cantor Arts CenterUpper Loading Dock Lokey LaboratoryCloset room #243
CCSRSouth wing entrance next to the elevator (right outside room 2230) MSLSLobby, next to vending machine
FalkCV1CIR04 near the lobby, by the PSSI bins and sinkSAPP
Outside room 202, next to mens restroom
GilbertAutoclave space room #313Shriram     Mail Room / Loading Dock, room 140-144

Contact if you’d like one or more five-gallon buckets to start collecting gloves in your lab or to set up a serviced collection point in your building. 

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 Environmental Health & Safety's (EH&S) website for a more detailed list of how to sort common lab materials. 

Batteries: EH&S provides over 200 locations across campus for battery recycling. Find battery recycling locations.

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 EH&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 e-waste locations.

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 (a.k.a 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.)