A case report: Insights into Reducing Plastic Waste in a Microbiology Laboratory

Joana Alves, Fiona Sargison, Hanne Stawarz, Willow Fox, Samuel García Huete, Amany Hassan, Brian McTeir, Amy Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single-use plastics have often replaced more sustainable materials in microbiology laboratories. Keeping in mind that one of the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is responsible consumption and production, we wanted to document how many single-use plastic items could be saved by taking reduction and reuse approaches in a microbiology laboratory. After taking four-weeks to document the baseline levels of single-use plastic waste being generated in our laboratory and identifying ways to reduce our reliance on them, we implemented various reduction and reuse approaches and then documented our plastic use over a seven-week period. Reduction approaches included moving to sustainable materials, such as reusable wooden sticks for patch plating, and metal loops for inoculation. Reuse approaches focused on re-using plastic tubes via a chemical decontamination station and autoclaving, facilitating the reduction of single-use plastics and a decrease in the amount of waste generated. By utilising reduction and reuse strategies, which could be implemented in other microbiology laboratories, substantial single-use plastic savings were achieved. These savings had an impact on the amount of biohazard waste being autoclaved and incinerated as well as generating substantial cost-savings for the research institute. The reductions in waste documented in this study could act as a benchmark for others wanting to implement the changes described.
Original languageEnglish
Article number000173
JournalAccess Microbiology
Early online date14 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2020


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