In laboratory and health care settings, much of the waste produced is considered “contaminated” as it comes into contact with human fluids and tissue, cells or chemicals that could be harmful to humans.
To ensure safe disposal of these items, they are placed in Biohazard bins and sent for autoclaving (heat sterilisation) or often incineration.
However, autoclaving takes up large amounts of energy but also incineration produces huge amounts of CO2 emissions and can release toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere which can cause human disease.
This waste route is also far more costly for an institutes than regular waste routes are.
What we can do
Safe disposal of contaminated lab items is important, but often in labs we find even non-contaminated items ending up in biohazard bins.
By making sure we properly separate our contaminated and non-contaminated waste, we can make sure non-contaminated items can be reused, recycled or repurposed.
This reduces the amount of waste needing to be incinerated and saves the institutes money, but also helps to reduce the CO2 emissions and dangerous toxins released into our atmosphere.