SP0102: Reducing Chemical Lab Waste

Status: COMPLETED December 2014

The 'Reducing Lab Chemical Waste' project takes an interdisciplinary (managerial, chemical and educational) approach to minimize the total output of chemical waste produced by the McGill Chemistry Department. Two students in separate labs will monitor the waste output of their work and extrapolate data to develop a model for waste segregation that can be applied  to other labs in the future.

Read the full project description

Getting to experiment with chemicals in amazing ways is one of the exciting aspects of being a science student - but multiply the chemicals used in one experiment by hundreds of students, doing experiments every day, and you've got a whole lot of hazardous waste on your hands.  What we want to know is - what are the environmental implications involved in the handling, transportation, treatment and incineration of this hazardous waste? Armed with this knowledge, this project will develop managerial, chemical and education ways to reduce the negative impacts found.

Two undergraduate students will use part of their time to monitor the waste output of two laboratories by segregating waste streams and extrapolating their data for the long term. A model for waste segregation that can be adapted to other labs in the future will then be developed and applied.

Top-down and bottom-up approaches are key to the energy and cost saving solutions proposed by this project. Students will work collaboratively with professors, their research laboratories and staff, receiving frequent supervision and guidance via a unique, multi-disciplinary learning environment. Arguments for safety, monetary savings and education will be used to ensure the long-term implementation of the recommendations.

Resources from the SPF have been used to provide a stipend for project managers and student lab assistants, as well as chemicals, lab consumables, instrument operation and administrative costs.

A few possible solutions to proposed to reduce waste include: solvent recycling, acid-base neutralization and other changes to standard operating procedures. Cost-benefit and environmental impact analyses will also be performed, to demonstrate possible economic incentives for these sustainable improvements.

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McGill Chem Waste Group


cyril.vallet [at] mail.mcgill.ca (Cyril Vallet) (Project Leader)

Related Projects

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Hazardous Waste Minimization

Laboratory Sustainability Initiative




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