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BIO 182 - Northwest: Home

Can laboratories move away from single-use plastic?

"In September, PhD student Samantha Seah challenged herself to collect all the plastic and nitrile waste she used in her lab in one day. Pipette tips, tubes, gloves, they quickly added up. At the end of her working day, Seah, who studies droplet microfluidics at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, weighed the waste. It totaled 230 g. In a year, she estimates, that would add up to about 60 kg, or the weight of a small person.

Seah wasn’t the first to try to measure how much plastic gets tossed in the trash in labs. In 2015, a team at the University of Exeter did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate how much plastic waste scientific labs generate in a year. The answer was over 5.5 million metric tons (Nature 2015, DOI: 10.1038/528479c). The researchers based their estimate on extrapolations from their biosciences department. More accurate numbers for how much scientific research contributes to global consumption of single-use plastic do not seem to exist."

From Chemical & Engineering News

Contact Information

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Monique Rodriguez
Pima Community College
Northwest Campus Library
Phone: (520) 206-2239 Email:


Elements of this LibGuide have been borrowed from Kris Swank & Monique Rodriguez's respective BIO 105 LibGuides.