Conducting a Waste Audit in the Second Year Introductory Biochemistry Laboratory at Dalhousie University to Determine Waste Diversion Strategies
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This report analyzed the amount of waste produced in the Introductory Biochemistry Laboratory 2610 at Dalhousie University to determine the portion of waste that could be diverted from the landfills and also what materials are currently improperly disposed of. The majority of the waste that is produced within the laboratory contributes to environmental issues such as water contamination, greenhouse gases and increasing landfill sites. Waste audits were conducted four times at the Introductory Biochemistry Laboratory 2610. The quantity and weight of the preparation and student generated waste within the laboratory was determined based on the total of each material collected in the waste bins. Interviews were also conducted in order to gain further quantitative and qualitative data. Microsoft excel spreadsheets spreadsheets were used to construct graphs to compare the amount and variety of materials used in the laboratory, what materials would be best for waste diversion, and also the portion of waste that could be diverted from the landfills. Results of the data show that the proportion of materials changed for each waste audit but the majority of the waste produced in each laboratory was discovered to go to the landfills. A small portion of the waste is reused and almost none is recycled. Recommendations discussed include: a sustainable lab program, an effective recycling and refuse program, educating students on proper laboratory waste disposal, hiring student volunteers to clean re-usable materials, autoclave equipment and to ensure proper recycling/disposal of laboratory waste, re-usable apron program, broken glass recycling, and switch to environmentally preferable purchasing. Incorporating these recommendations to this laboratory could reduce the amount of waste diverted to the landfills and increase the amount of reused and recycled materials.