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Actions To Take To Reduce Laboratory Waste 

It goes without saying that labs produce a lot of waste. Plastic waste from labs is so large that efforts have been made to regulate it. Given that much of laboratory waste is highly toxic and hazardous, you cannot discard it in trash cans and have it collected by trash disposal services. This is why you must take serious action to reduce laboratory waste and keep it manageable. Here are some effective actions you can take to keep lab waste minimal. 

Waste Audit

When operating a business, regular audits will let you know the steps to take to increase profits or manage losses. These actionable steps can only be identified after you assess your business operations. The same approach can be used in laboratory waste management. A waste audit will let you know what needs to be disposed of and what should be recycled. You don’t have to eliminate everything, as some things can be reused. A comprehensive waste audit reveals how much waste there is, its toxic levels, and the best way to manage it. Therefore, performing a waste audit is critical in reducing lab waste. 

Reducing Your Product Usage

You can significantly reduce lab waste by using lab materials efficiently. A lab has many products, and you must find a way to use them appropriately. Avoid cluttering items that are not necessarily needed in the lab. Instead, strive to create a well-organized environment with access to only essential materials. Here are tips on how you can reduce product usage in your lab. 

How to Eliminate Paper: From Paper to Paperless

With the advancement of technology, we are moving away from paper-based operations to a paperless work environment. Using paper in lab operations is one of the biggest sources of lab waste. Therefore, you must find a way to eliminate paper and stop relying on it. Transforming your operations from paper to a digital workflow will go a long way in reducing laboratory waste. Research shows that switching to paperless lab operations could reduce lab waste by up to 35%. And there are many ways you can make the switch, for instance, lab management software can help you plan your operations and eliminate unnecessary clutter.

Chemical Hazardous Waste Reduction

Lab operations produce different types of waste. It is vital to categorize this waste so that you know how to manage it. Here are the different types of lab waste.

Turning Off Unused Equipment or Appliances in the Laboratory

Any lab appliances or equipment that are not in use should be turned off. Doing so will not only help reduce lab waste but also save on operational costs. Only turn on lab equipment when you are using them; if not, always have them switched off. Some lab appliances are heavy consumers of electricity and could be costly if left on at all times. Take the necessary precautions and only turn them on when necessary. 

Transition to Renewable Energy

Electricity is not the only way to power lab operations. In fact, such sources of power are nonrenewable and typically not ideal for the environment. Therefore, you should consider transitioning to renewable energy sources of power. Sustainable options like wind, solar, and bio-energy will be a good upgrade. Not only are these sources sustainable, but they are also very affordable. You don’t have to worry about excessive energy bills as these sources are sustainable. Even better, these energy sources are readily available and effectively keep your lab operational. 

Recycling and Reusing

You cannot talk about reducing lab waste without mentioning reusing and recycling. There are many laboratory items you can reuse or recycle. Instead of disposing of them in the trash can, you can find another purpose for some items. For instance, beakers that are still in usable condition can be retained and used for other lab procedures. Don’t be too quick to discard lab items unless it is absolutely necessary. As mentioned earlier, a lab waste audit will give you a clear picture of what to do. You will know items that you can retain and those that you can discard. Find a safe way to get rid of any toxic or harmful items. If necessary, hire a professional trash disposal service to help you do so. 

Collection and Storage of Waste

Collecting and storing lab waste is crucial to lab operations. You need to take the necessary precautionary measures when handling lab waste. As you know, lab waste can be dangerous and must be handled with great care. Store different types of lab waste in ideal containers; these include flammable, hazardous, or liquid waste containers, and you must label them clearly to avoid confusion.  


Lab waste management is crucial for smooth lab operations. You should find ways to reduce lab waste and keep it minimal. The tips discussed here will go a long way in helping you cut down on lab waste.


Chloe Stamenkovic is a life science research analyst collaborating with Reader’s Digest, eLabNext, Dataversity & others. Having strong molecular biology, analytical & data science modeling skills she manages project initiatives to elevate the knowledge in technology solutions for laboratories, in order to increase efficiency in the lab. She focused on all topics regarding biotech but most recently specialized in topics such as digital health, lab digitization, ELN/LIMS, AI, Machine Learning, and automation’s role in developing novel therapeutics.

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