Laboratory Sustainability: The Glass Advantage
It is hard to go through a typical day without reading or hearing about the growing concerns of the impact humans have on our planet. Many efforts are being made to raise public consciousness to reduce, reuse, and recycle as the main tenets to reverse the environmental issues that have arisen as a result of our progress over the last century. These same principles can be applied to our work life as laboratory professionals.
Biology and chemistry labs have evolved over the last several decades as new scientific techniques have emerged. With this evolution, the typical laboratory has experienced a shift from reusable glassware products to plastic alternatives. For a variety of reasons, the trends in lab plastics have moved decidedly toward single-use disposable options. While these advancements present a host of benefits, they all pose a significant impact on the environment as well as raise other issues, including leachable and extractable concerns.
For laboratories and individuals trying to do their part to counter the mounting environmental impact and challenges posed by plastics, laboratory glassware offers a viable solution to significantly reduce the waste generated by our endeavors to advance scientific discovery.
DWK Life Sciences offers the widest variety of laboratory glassware to support scientific endeavors across a plethora of applications. We produce lab staples such as beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, volumetric flasks, pipettes, and graduated cylinders using highly durable and inert 33-expansion borosilicate KIMAX glass, which can be reused for years when properly maintained.
Proper maintenance of laboratory glassware includes cleaning, sterilizing when required, and inspection. Cleaning methods vary based on the applications and can range from soaking in an aqueous solution with detergent for several minutes followed by a rinse of deionized water to more aggressive techniques using acids or other oxidizing reagents.
Depending on the facility or institution, glass washing equipment may be available. Most manufacturers of laboratory glass washing equipment have introduced advancements into newer models that use less energy and reduce the volume of water used in each wash cycle, just like in our home appliances. These improved lines of equipment reduce the carbon footprint and contribute to the reduction of wastewater generation.
While proper cleaning is key in prolonging the life of your lab glass consumables, it is important to routinely inspect glassware for signs of wear. DWK Life Sciences is available to help educate and train your lab personnel on the proper methods for maintaining and inspecting laboratory glassware to ensure your lab realizes the maximum lifecycle of your laboratory products.
As with our life outside of work, the key is finding and achieving the right balance. Depending on the application, the benefits of plastics may be too great to ignore. However, in many cases, tried and true laboratory glassware offers a clear advantage over plastic alternatives and has far less impact on the environment.
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