Green Labs

The University of Illinois at Chicago is our city's only public research institution. Together, we can create a more sustainable laboratory environment in which to work and conduct research. Currently, UIC labs dispose 70,000 pounds of hazardous waste and consume 5 times as much energy as a typical household each year. This page will outline small techniques researchers can practice to use less energy and waste.

1. Reduce Energy

researcher closing the sash of a fume hood

Laboratories consume 5 times more energy than an average home. Many laboratory equipment that are always in a “high-power” states (even when they are not needed) often draw a lot of energy. You can unplug lab equipment when not in use, defrost lab freezers,  and make sure to shut the sash of the fume hood.

winning lab accepts certificate for winning the lab freezer challenge

Keep up proper cold storage management!

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) partners with My Green Lab to run the International Laboratory Freezer Challenge. The challenge promotes sample integrity, energy efficiency, and cost reduction in laboratories. Labs can reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact of the lab, decrease costs associated with maintaining extraneous cold storage units, and improve access to and security for viable samples. Compete against other labs. The challenge typically runs January-May.

 

 

staircase in the Molecular Biology Research Building

Get paid for an energy efficient freezer!

At times, UIC offers researchers rebates in order to purchase energy efficient lab equipment like freezers. This website will be updated as soon as the rebates become available again.

2. Minimize Waste

UIC staff inside the LabShare store room

Get Free Lab Glassware or donate gently used items

The LabShare Program accepts donations of unwanted, but usable lab supplies. We can take usable laboratory supplies such as glassware, disposable items, and equipment. Anyone from the UIC community may receive these items for professional use in their laboratory. Most of our inventory is listed online at uic.rheaply.com.

Read more about the UIC LabShare Program.

researchers placing pipette tip boxes in a recycling bin

Recycle Pipette Tip Boxes

Dispose clean, uncontaminated pipette tip boxes, lids, and refillable trays in the “Pipette Tip Box” recycling bin, located on each floor of buildings with laboratories that use pipettes. UIC cannot accept pipette tips because they have the potential to puncture and tear open the bags, but more importantly, there is no guarantee that the tips are clean.

 

staff and student hold up their hands in green nitrile gloves

Demand to Recycle Nitrile Gloves

Does your lab use Kimberly Clark nitrile gloves? Request a special recycling bin for your building. Paid for by the Department and/ or College.

 

glass metal plastic recycling sign

Recycle Non-Hazardous Chemical Bottles

Chemical bottles may be recycled along with other glass/metal/plastic as long as it meets the following criteria:

  • the bottle is empty (nothing will drip when inverted) Do NOT allow volatile liquids to evaporate in the fume hood as a method of disposal!
  • the bottle is capless (unsealed/ opened)
  • label is defaced (name of chemical is scratched out with a marker)
  • the bottle used to contain non-hazardous materials (examples include media, buffer solutions, etc.)

Never recycle a bottle that used to contain flammable*, toxic, oxidizing, explosive, radioactive, water reactive, carcinogenic, biohazardous, or corrosive substances.

Please see the EHSO Lab Safety Plan how to identify a hazardous chemical and dispose of hazardous chemical bottles according to the Lab Safety Plan.*the only acceptable bottle to recycle that contained a flammable substance is ethanol.

3. Neutralize Hazardous Chemicals

stormwater draining down a sewer

Some chemicals can be neutralized into non-hazardous components before disposal in order to eliminate unnecessary hazardous waste incineration pollution. Check the EHSO website for complete details about neutralizing chemicals. Common chemicals that can be neutralized in the lab include formaldehyde, and acids and bases. Ethidium bromide (EtBr) can be neutralized before disposal, however alternatives are strongly encouraged to use instead since EtBr is a well-documented carcinogen and use should be avoided at all costs.

Read the details of safe chemical disposal (EHSO).

More tips for a more sustainable lab