Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Laboratory plastics

We are working to encourage sustainable use and disposal of plastics in University laboratories.

Why are we talking about lab plastics? 

A poster with guidelines for reducing lab plastics

The University of Edinburgh is a leading research-intensive university, with more than 80% of our research activity considered world leading or internationally excellent.  Laboratories are an integral part of the continued excellence of the University’s research, but they can also be a large source of single-use plastic waste. 

We are working to support laboratories to be as sustainable as possible, and to better understand the use, recycling, and disposal of plastic items in lab settings. We will update this page with resources as they become available. In the meantime, if you, or someone you know, has an idea for reducing single-use plastic in labs, please get in touch!

Contact us

What can I do? 

Whether you're a student, technician, or a principle investigator - everyone can contribute to making their laboratory more sustainable!

Here we have gathered guidance and resources related to reducing single-use plastics in labs.

We have created this guidance document to help staff reduce single use plastics. 


We have also adapted a poster from University College London to highlight ways that labs can reduce single-use plastics, pictured on this page:


Some 20,500 institutions worldwide are involved in biological, medical or agricultural research (where plastic disposal is likely to be heaviest), so that could equate to around 5.5 million tonnes of lab plastic waste in 2014 — roughly the combined tonnage of 67 cruise liners, and equal to 83% of the plastic recycled worldwide in 2012.

Urbina, M.A., Watts, A.J.R., and Reardon, E.E. 2014. Labs should cut plastic waste too. Nature. 528, p. 479.