Waste and recycling in laboratories

This page answers some of the most common questions around waste and recycling in laboratories, and provides information about where to find out more.

Birdseye photo of blue gloves and other lab waste in a bin, blue background

Avoiding waste in the first place is the first and most advisable step. If you can reuse items, they usually have to be washed and possibly sterilised. Have a look at our equipment guidance for advice about equipment sustainability and energy saving opportunities.

Not all waste that has been in a lab is hazardous! Please speak to your Departmental Safety Officer (DSO) if you are unsure which kinds of waste should and shouldn’t go through the hazardous waste stream.

Non-hazardous waste

The waste hierarchy is a good way to think about how we manage waste. The best option is to prevent waste from being produced in the first place. Aim to make sustainable choices when you plan your research and experiments. In particular, when you purchase equipment, chemicals or consumables, your choices have an impact on the amount of energy and waste that is generated further down the line. Consider potential negative impacts, and try to reduce those as far as possible. 

Hazardous waste

Visit the Safety Office website for information about how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Find out more...

Reviewing your bins and recycling points can be an important step on your journey towards an efficient and sustainable lab. It will also count towards your LEAF or Green Impact accreditation. Find out what else you can do in your lab to adopt more sustainable practices through the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) or the Green Impact scheme.

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Explore the take-back schemes offered by the University's preferred suppliers.


Get in touch

Charlotte Houghton, Sustainability Projects Manager (Laboratory Optimisation)


+44 (0) 7917 555533