Styrofoam makes up a significant portion of the waste stream in many biological labs. Solutions, buffers, and other necessary research materials are shipped in foam coolers stuffed to the brim with packaging materials. Labs in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department recently decided that they had had enough of this exasperating volume of daily waste. In response to their feedback, a study was conducted to quantify the volume of Styrofoam waste generated on a regular basis.

The results will be used to explore the feasibility of a reuse or recycling program for the material. Over the course of two weeks, the following items were collected from the nine participating labs:

  • 43 foam coolers
  • 2 foam bricks
  • 1.13 cubic feet of packing peanuts
  • 6 ice packs

Now that the study is complete, a variety of options will be explored including an on-campus reuse program involving other departments, a mail-back program to major vendors, and a recycling program. Stay tuned for more updates as this initiative progresses!