How much is polystyrene waste worth?

31 Oct

For me, this is a very interesting question. It has the potential to change my view of lab based plastic “waste”. Instead of waste, polystyrene should probably be regarded as a resource. This point of view was suggested to Clive and I when we met with Peter Clayson from DS Smith Recycling. DS Smith Recycling is based in Caerphilly just a few miles north of Cardiff University. Peter gave an example of how plastic packaging was being recycled by his company in a matter of just a few weeks. As a result of the meeting, Clive looked up the prices of plastic waste. According to Plastic, the value (as of October 29, 2012) of high-heat crystal, post-consumer polystyrene is 54 – 60 cents per pound of clean regrind or flake. By my calculation, this makes about $1,000 per tonne. The challenge then is how to turn polystyrene lab waste into clean regrind or flake – safely.


Update on our Workshop on Laboratory Waste 1st Nov 2012

26 Oct

Workshop on Laboratory Waste
9:30am till 12:30am

This event will be an facilitated discussion which aims to identify novel solutions that can change laboratory waste. Three key themes will be discussed:

  1. The possibility of making laboratory plastics from plant based material.
  2. Changing behaviour of lab staff to improve sustainability.
  3. The possibility of recycling plastic from laboratories.

We aim to develop a list of potential solutions with a view to developing the next phase of this project.

Important contributors

  • Dr Paul Brennan, School of Medicine, Cardiff University – Lead of the Sustainable Lab Wales project. Paul will outline the purpose of the project and the progress made to date. He will describe a feasibility study to replace laboratory plastics with plant based materials.
  • Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh, School of Psychology, Cardiff University. Lorraine will talk about a survey of lab staff attitudes to recycling and related issues about sustainability behaviour.
  • Dr Clive Gregory, Eco-champion, School of Medicine, Cardiff University. Clive will talk about his experiences of being an Eco-champion including some of his successes and challenges he has faced.
  • Dr Katrina Henderson, Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Unit. Katriona will talk about sustainability and waste in Cardiff University.
  • Mal Williams, CEO of Cylch – Wales Community Recycling Network. Mal has been invited to give a valuable outside perspective for the project.

Workshop on Laboratory Waste 1st November 2012

18 Sep

Speakers include:

Professor Ken Peattie, Director of Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society, Cardiff University

Dr Richard Jones, Deputy Head of Capital Projects, University of Oxford

Dr Adam Charlton, Bangor University

Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Dr Clive Gregory, Eco-champion, School of Medicine, Cardiff University

Round Table Discussion facilitated by Dr Paul Brennan

Summing Up by Mal Williams, CEO of Cylch – Wales Community Recycling Network

Survey goes live…

6 Jul

Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh has created and uploaded our survey that aims toΒ find out about how behaviours in labs are influenced and how we can make a difference. We’re calling it our Survey on Waste Behaviour in Laboratories. We’re looking for people who work in labs to fill it in please. To fill it in please go here. Thanks in advance.

Sigma Aldrich recycling point

5 Jun

I received this email on Friday. Sounds very promising πŸ™‚

Dear colleagues,

There is now a crate located to the left of the clinical waste bins in the Henry Wellcome loading bay that can be used for recycling Sigma Aldrich goods. Please note the following terms however.

Approved Materials
● Sigma-Aldrich supplied materials only
● The specific recycling streams as agreed
o Glass
o Poly-coated glass
o Plastic
o Cardboard

Preparation of materials for return
● Hazard warning labels must be defaced by removal or striking through with an indelible marker
● Containers must be empty, rinsed and drip dried
● All caps and lids must be removed
● Containers must be free of all internal or external contamination


Nice to be working in a ‘greener’ university….

29 May

The People & Planet Green League 2012 was launched today. I am happy to see that Cardiff University has improved its grade from a ‘fail’ last year to a Upper Second Class this year. We have also moved up the rankings but that’s not as important as the improvement our score which measures . Congratulations and well done to those involved.

Could we replace this?

23 Mar

I wonder would it be possible to make this out of plant derived material and if so how much would it cost?

Plastic Tray