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
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.
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 and win a chance to be featured in Nautre!
2. Minimize Waste
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.
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.
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.
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
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.