Concerned about the landfill waste being generated from the plastic containers being used in lab experiments, two microbiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a new procedure to make lab containers, which formerly held bio-hazardous material, safe for recycling.
They worked with the CDC’s Biosafety Office to create a procedure that would autoclave and sterilize the plastics so that they would no longer pose a biosafety threat.
Implementation of the sterilization process was an innovative step that allowed large amounts of lab plastics to be recycled rather than sent to landfills.
In a 16-month period, a total of 13,772 pounds of solid plastic waste was recycled from the first four laboratories. Through the laboratory recycling program, 6.7 percent of laboratory waste is now being diverted from the landfill. Currently, the program is being expanded to six new laboratories.