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.

2019 International Freezer Challenge

Winners of the 2017 Freezer Challenge at the award ceremony

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) has once again collaborated with My Green Lab to launch the 2019 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge. The challenge promotes sample integrity, energy efficiency, and cost reduction in laboratories.

Labs earn points for management practices, temperature tuning, technology retirement and upgrades, and sharing information on best practices for sample storage and inventory. Benefits of the challenge include:

  • Reduced energy consumption and environmental impact of the lab.
  • Decreased costs associated with maintaining extraneous cold storage units.
  • Improved researcher access to and security for viable samples.
  • Development of ongoing cold storage management practices that support efficiency and maximize lab space utility.
  • Internatinoal recognition for participants at the 2019 I2SL Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 20-23. Top competitors will have their picture published in a leading scientific journal.
  • The winning lab at UIC will receive a $50 gift card for their lab. Energy efficient related prizes will also be awarded to the 2nd and 3rd place UIC labs.
  • All participating UIC labs will be recognized for their efforts, much like the 2017 Freezer Challenge ceremony.

Sign up today to join labs across the world promoting efficient, effective sample storage. But hurry! The deadline to sign up to be entered for the UIC challenge is February 22 and all score sheets are due April 22, 2019 (Earth Day!)

Operating an Energy Efficient Lab

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.

Read the UIC Energy Policy on campus energy use at the UIC Policies website.

UIC LabShare Program

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 make receive these items for professional use in their laboratory.

Recycle Non-Hazardous Plastic & Glass

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.

Nitrile Gloves

Place non-hazardous Kimberly Clark nitrile gloves in a special recycling bin in your lab and take the full recycling box to the designated nitrile glove recycling holding area in your building.

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 voltile 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.

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 alternatives are strongly encouraged as that chemical is a well-documented carcinogen and use should be avoided at all costs.

ULT Freezer Rebate

At times, the University 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.

Tips for a more sustainable lab