SP0131: Laboratory Sustainability Initiative

Status: COMPLETED April 2014 - March 2015

This project is an initiative to increase the diversion rate of glass and plastic wastes generated in laboratories across McGill, that are otherwise ending up in landfills. While recycling facilities are commonplace in office, classroom and corridor areas of McGill, separate glass and plastic waste recycling collection bins will be installed in three labs on campus. Data generated will support the efficacy of implementing a university-wide program to significantly reduce the impact our labs have on campus waste generation.



Read the full project description

Many universities in North America have already implemented glass and plastic bottle (non-hazardous) programs for recycling in laboratories to great success, unfortunately there exists no provisions for collecting general laboratory glass and plastics for recycling at McGill. Indeed, data from University of Toronto's St. George campus shows it is possible to achieve a waste diversion rate of 68.2% with proper implementation of such policies.

With over 900 research and teaching laboratories on the McGill University campuses, the amount of glass and plastic containers translates to one of the highest sources of these materials on campus.Currently, McGill policy for produced glass and plastic chemical (non-hazardous) bottles in labs requires triple-rinsing of the bottle, following which it is disposed as regular garbage.

This project entails a short term pilot study during which separate collection bins for plastic and glass consumables will be installed in three labs (Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience)  that utilize chemicals, glass and plastic consumables. Items designated for collection in these bins include glass and plastic bottles, test tubes, Petri dishes, pipettes, pipette racks, boxes, trays, bottles and jars. The weight and volume of items collected in the laboratory every week will be compiled and analyzed in order to monitor and record the waste diversion and recycling rate.

Data generated from this project will be shared with the Office of Sustainability, EHS and Waste Management Program, Facilities Development and Operations at McGill in order to propose a new policy for recycling to be adopted by all labs on McGill campus.

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McGill Faculty of Engineering


sai.chandrasekar [at] mail.mcgill.ca (Sai Chandrasekar)

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