Bioplastics: A Sustainable Alternative in Research Laboratories:
Can we replace single-use plastic laboratory equipment with bioplastics alternatives?
Bioplastic materials could reduce the use of single-plastics in research laboratories globally.
Laboratories generate an important amount of plastic waste that creates detrimental effects to the environment. Estimates show that life-sciences laboratories alone create 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually across the globe (University of Exeter, 2015). Academia and industries use a gigantic amount of single-use plastic to conduct experiments with the justification of being cheaper, limiting contamination risks and being safer by being disposable (Sawyer, 2019). But at what cost? In 2019, global plastic waste reached 353 million tons, double the quantity produced in the early 2000’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2022). Amidst the current climate crisis, it is essential to reduce the amount of plastics produced, used, and discarded. Being the whistleblower on the impact of plastics on climate change, the scientific community must be held accountable for its waste production and lead the transition to more sustainable practices. Some universities and industrial laboratories have installed better waste disposal systems as a way to be more mindful of their plastic consumption (Laskowski, 2023). However, a novel way to mitigate single-plastic waste in scientific laboratories could be to shift to materials (laboratory equipment, containers, packaging, and personal protection equipment) that have a lower environmental impact or that are biodegradable.