+++ I needed to leave and have to stop answering questions. Thanks everyone for all your great questions and knowledge! Have a good evening!+++

Hello Everyone,

The biopharma industry utilizes single-use plastics in a growing number of areas— and for many good reasons, such as reductions in footprint, risk of contamination, time (i.e., processing, set-up and break down, batch-to-batch changeovers) and overall costs due to more efficient facilities and lower water consumption. These plastics include single-use bags, tubing, connectors, cartridge and capsule filters, clarification and depth filters, and chemical containers.

However, single-use plastics come with a downside: An estimated 30,000 tons of biopharma single-use products end up in landfills or are incinerated every year globally. At this rate, we project there will be over 300,000 tons of this waste generated by 2030. Due to biohazards, chemical contamination and the presence of mixed plastics—which are hard to separate in the current recycling infrastructure—this waste can’t just be dumped in a blue recycling bin and placed on the curb like any other plastic item.

I’m Jacqueline Ignacio, global manager of customer sustainability solutions at MilliporeSigma. I’m helping to tackle this issue through our company’s Biopharma Recycling Program, which allows our customers to recycle single-use plastic products. We work alongside the waste management company Triumvirate Environmental to transform these recycled plastics into new products, such as parking stops, plastic lumber and speed bumps.

My work on this program has made me view plastic recycling in a new way. This waste stream is not the first one a recycling company is going to pursue—it’s dirty, mixed plastics and low volume compared to other plastic waste streams. If others can start to think differently—or in a more circular fashion—we could see some impactful changes to the way we recycle today.

I really enjoy being able to bring the two very different industries of life science and waste management/recycling together to create a new solution. It’s challenging, but rewarding every day. The Biopharma Recycling Program requires me to have a “pushing the edge of the envelope” way-of-thinking. While it certainly benefits the environment and meets customers’ environmental goals, it’s also getting others to think outside the proverbial blue bin. If we can do this with the biopharma waste stream, can we start to imagine other items as something else rather than waste?

I’m happy to answer any questions about how we’re renewing the value of single-use plastic products previously viewed as waste.

A little about myself:

My career first began in the research lab before I transitioned into sales and product development within the life science industry. From there, I took a detour and became a massage therapist and part-time doula. While this part of my life was fulfilling and allowed me to make a difference, I craved to do something bigger.

I came back into life science through sales, which helped me learn how to really listen to what customers need. In 2013, there was an open position at MilliporeSigma in Corporate Responsibility that called for someone to develop and manage product/customer recycling programs. I took a chance and applied—and since then, I’m working to learn everything possible about recycling.

Proof: https://twitter.com/jacquiehig52/status/1062737961022828544

Comments: 209 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

BubblTea137 karma

Wouldn't it make sense for large corporations to factor the waste stream into product design? At the consumer level, it seems impractical to have everybody sort at the downstream. If companies designed packaging and products to limit the amount of mixed plastics and easier for reuse shouldn't that be considered the value via environmental impact on the product than a cost?

joyofjacquie128 karma

Yes, totally agree. Companies need to take end of life for product, packaging and distribution into account at the design stage. This will be how a real impact will be made.

AmateurMetronome18 karma

While I totally agree with what you're saying I think the companies will provide packaging that meets the requirements set forth by their customers. In this case I would put the onus on the medical community to add ease of recycling to the requirements of the package.

Just like any design pharma packaging has a hierarchy of requirements. Just off the top of my head I'd say that it looks something like:

  1. Protect your medical device from the point of manufacturing to the end user.
  2. Maintain a sterile environment for the medical device.
  3. Ease of use opening/operating container (i.e. ability to open package while wearing PPE).
  4. Provide lowest cost materials that meet above requirements.

Until a hospital is willing to pay a premium for an easy to recycle package vs. one that is harder to recycle but cheaper overall then I don't see why a supplier would have any incentives to switch.

This assumes of course that there is added cost in making a package easy to recycle. If there isn't any added cost then I would hope they're already using that material.

BlueBerrySyrup13 karma

On top of that, when you get into the OR, all that packaging gets dumped into the same bin for the most part. There's no nurse, doctor, or janitor who is going to spend time separating the bio-hazard covered surgeon gowns from the possibly recyclable device packaging.

When the case is over, they need to clean everything as quick as possible. The turn around time on the OR needs to be minimized so they can move on to the next procedure.

joyofjacquie19 karma

Your points are very good, thanks for adding. I would like to add that designing with sustainability in mind at the beginning, or conception phase will often end up with a lower cost, If however, a company is trying to go back and redesign a product or its packaging, then there can be a cost burden. So, changing our mindset is going to take time but will be well woth it in the end, both frm a cost and environmental perspective!

MeowTheMixer29 karma

At times it's very difficult to do this.

I work for a company that's very environmentally focused, but also sells consumer goods.

Plastic is not just "plastic" you have different resins for different needs. PE offers great overall proprieties, and is recycled frequently but a poor oxygen barrier. If you have an oxygen sensitive product you may add an EVOH layer, but then that prevents that component from being recycled.

Just a small example but it happens frequently.

joyofjacquie26 karma

Great example of the constant battle we have when designing something that meets the needs for the product but may not be easily recycled in today's technologies. That's why I think I like to focus on the technologies that can handle the difficult waste streams! Because the EVOH layer may be extending the life of the food that is inside the package and helping to decrease the amount of food that is wasted due to spoilage!

frogstein78 karma

Is there really much difference between the waste streams from biopharma and consumer-level plastic waste streams, other than the different percentages of plastic types? Wouldn't one solution work for both?

joyofjacquie92 karma

Technically speaking, the differences lie in the amount of mixed plastics and the potential of the waste being classified as biohazardous. Many of the products used in biopharma manufacturing have multiple types of plastics that are very difficult to separate. In our first attempt we tried to segregate and separate the different devices/products and then the plastics. This became a manual and labor intensive process with very little return on the plastics that were separated out. )not to mention the safety concerns ) We couldn't use this same process for biohazardous waste and so we needed to find something that could shred and sterilize before segregation. The process that Triumvirate is using is unique in that they can handle the bio-waste, shred and sterilize it and then create a product out of the mixed (almost valueless) plastic shred.

Yes, this process could be used for municipal plastic waste, however, many of the items in municipal streams are easily segregated and can be recycled into items of greater value.

tess_tickles40 karma

most post consumer plastic grades are easily segregated by plastic type without contamination from other plastic grades and are reprocessed into new material regularly.

1 - PET

2 - HDPE

3 - PVC

4 - LDPE

5 - PP

6 - PS

7 - Other.

The biopharma plastics have many different plastic components that make up 1 tool, which make segregating all the different parts laborious. This is why it's biopharma plastic is considered low grade and can only be recycled into something that has an end use.

joyofjacquie16 karma

Thanks! Well said and explained!

firedrops35 karma

I used to work in a path lab and we disposed of tons of single use plastic. Often those plastic containers had formalin and body parts. Or urine/spit/bile/etc. Can you walk me through the process of preparing and recycling something like that? How do labs need to handle biohazardous waste differently if they want to participate?

joyofjacquie39 karma

We don't take path lab waste. There really is no better way to deal with these types of waste today other than controlled incineration. We are also not able to take hazardous (chemical) waste in this system. We conduct a waste audit before enrolling a customer in the program to ensure that none of these types of wastes are included.

ahraysee10 karma

I work at a biotech company in Massachusetts and I know we use Triumvirate as our waste management. We have biohazardous bins (bio waste, no chemicals) and hazardous bins (chemicals but no bio waste). Is the process that's approved in PA also approved in MA? Is the waste from our biohazardous bins already being treated by this new process? If not, is there a way to make this closer to happening, aside from it becoming approved? Thanks!

joyofjacquie8 karma

Yes, you can use the program in MA. The actual process is being conducted in PA, but Triumvirate has permits to pick up and transport bio-waste to PA.

GreatSunBro17 karma

How commercially viable is plastics recycling?

Recently when China tightened its waste standards it gave the impression that no one really wants it and even Japan with its extensive domestic recycling standards and culture export the waste in bulk instead of recycling to feed into their own industry, one that is utterly dependent on imports.

Cheap and abundant shale gas seems poised to end plastics recycling as they offer high quality feedstock.

joyofjacquie33 karma

It is commercially viable and has been for years. China has not stopped all imports of plastics. They are the world's largest manufacturer of plastic goods and use recycled content where possible. What they have stopped is the mixed waste streams. The Chinese need a cleaner, higher quality plastic that can easily be used in their production. Many "plastic" shipments to China in the past contained items that were not plastic (actual waste).

barbellbeast7 karma

While it’s a great idea, and there’s a lot of plastics used in biopharma, how is the issue of removal of contamination from the plastics being looked at? Isn’t there product removal studies to be carried out before the plastics can be reused or a process developed that ensures the recycled plastic is clean from previous products? I’m a process engineer in a bio pharma company in the Netherlands so I deal with plastics daily in our manufacturing plant too.

joyofjacquie6 karma

The process that is being used has been permitted by the State of Pennsylvania. The actual process has been around for a long time and has been used to dispose of regulated medical waste (RMW). There are monthly inspections by the State in accordance with the permits and this ensures the "shred" has been decontaminated. In most instances this shred would be landfilled or sent for incineration. Triumvirate has decided to take the shred and manufacture plastic lumber at the same location.

adenovato7 karma

Welcome, Jacqueline!

In your introduction, you mention that this particular process is "dirty, mixed plastics and low volume compared to other plastic waste streams. If others can start to think differently...."

To you, what does thinking differently entail? Where should companies be looking? What procedural bottlenecks, if any, exist that limit impactful changes?

joyofjacquie12 karma

I look at plastic and see opportunity. I see new products that can be made again and again. Believe it or not, that type of thinking is not as common as we'd think. As for companies, they should start to look at their systems, developments and/or how they design their products. Where in their systems is it circular is a question that should be asked. It brings changes, but efficiency comes with circularity. The bottlenecks in my mind is just the pace at which we can make changes. However there are others, like being able to identify plastics easier and then separate them. We need better, more sophisticated equipment that is cost effective at handling the mixed waste stream. handle

DigiMagic5 karma

Why is mixed household waste generally not recycled, but usually just dumped or eventually burned? Is it just not possible to separate mixed waste into recyclable components, or it's possible but too expensive? I've thought you might have some ideas on that because you've said that you efficiently deal with "dirty, mixed plastics" which sounded remotely similar.

joyofjacquie7 karma

You are correct. Many plastics go to landfill or incineration because the companies that are taking them or the municipalities that are trying to set up recycling have not been funded well. Without the proper funding they don't have the ability to separate the plastics. On top of that, single-stream recycling systems have not really worked very well. People often throw in items that cannot be recycled (pizza boxes, liquids, oils for instance) and so the system gets contaminated and the whole load will get sent to a landfill.

LudovicoSpecs4 karma

For refillable prescriptions that are permanent, why can't we just re-use one container with our name and medication name on it?

joyofjacquie3 karma

Good point!

RY020164 karma

Hi Jacqueline, thanks for answering questions today.

What are some tips that you can give to the average redditor about better recycling habits and how to reduce our environmental impact in our day to day lives?

joyofjacquie5 karma

Measure what you use today. Then look at where you can reduce the single-use plastic. Plastic drink bottles are my area today. I bought a SodaStream and have carbonated water when I want it. No more San Pellegrino plastic bottles! Also, plastic zip-loc bags get washed in my house and resued until they no longer work. Then I put them in the plastic bag recycling at my grocery store. I try to buy my meat from a store that doesn't use foam trays as these are rarely recycled. And yes, I have tried to cut down on plastic straw usage! I use reusable bags not just for grocery shopping, but also clothing and home goods. These are small but significant ways we can reduce the use of plastic.

PHealthy3 karma

Are there plans to extend to less developed countries?

joyofjacquie2 karma

At the moment, no. We have looked at taking this model to other regions, but it is still too cost prohibitive. I have been investigating other technologies, so there could be another breakthrough in the next few years.

PHealthy1 karma

Are you thinking appropriate tech or simply capacity building?

joyofjacquie2 karma

I'm looking at different technologies, but capacity building for the current process is not off the table. However, before any of this can "expand" we need to be able to make a business case and sell the resultant recycled products and/or produce a recycled plastic that can compete with the petro-based plastic.

t0sserlad3 karma

I just wanted to say I work at a company as an engineer that designs and manufactures the PFA/FEP bottles that a lot of Biopharma companies use. Does Biopharma use "normal"/non-specialty plastics too? I know a lot of times they can't use like standard polypropylenes for bottles due to the temperature extremes in handling their product. Are there any differences in recycling between the different types or are they all equally challenging?

joyofjacquie3 karma

I think the most difficult aspect to recycling the plastics used in biopharma would be the bio-films used in the bioreactor and buffer bags. These are multi-layered films that cannot be separated. Most of the products that are "touching" the biological drug that is being manufactured have been made with the least amount of additives as possible and would be considered a high value plastic. Unfortunately they are usually attached to other types of plastics or generally hard to separate from the waste stream.

lumoruk3 karma


joyofjacquie2 karma

This is a real problem and one that is out of scope for my current project. All sorts of microplastics are ending up in our waters and eventually back in the food we eat. However, it will need a different approach than the one we are working with today. Biodegradable plastics or enzymes that can treat wastewater come to mind as examples.

nate2 karma

How do the waste handlers deal with the unknown biohazards that are on the plastics? In most cases the plastics aren't used for anything too bad, but occasionally they are, so you have to treat it as if everything is scary. Seems like the handling might be expensive.

joyofjacquie3 karma

If we just look at the cost of handling waste then, yes, the cost to pick up and dispose of bio-hazardous waste is more expensive. There are permits and special containers and trucks that need to be used, and that adds to the cost. That is why it's really important for us to understand how to classify waste properly so we don't add to an expensive waste stream. In the case of the biopharma waste, what we see, however, is a decrease in costs from an overall perspective. Almost everything used in the single-use suite is made from plastic and can be added into the process. If it is biohazardous, it doesn't need to be treated before being transported by Triumvirate (they have the permits and trucks) and can therefore cut down on the costs associated with autoclaving (energy, maintenance and personnel)

xolpxolpxolp2 karma

Interesting work!

What kind of waste and what level of contamination is processed by your solution?

For instance, tubing, connectors and capsule filters that see "weak" sterile chemicals like WFI, phosphate buffers, citrate buffers, dilute NaOH, are probably handled pretty easily. The opposite might be the case for single-use bioreactors and perfusion hollow fiber cartridges that come in contact with recombinant cells.

joyofjacquie2 karma

The cells are sometimes classified as bio-waste and will be handled by the process. We take bioreactor bags and filters from all parts of the bioprocess.

joyofjacquie2 karma

Taking a 30 minute break but will be back to answer more questions that you have! Thanks!

Farquhan2 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! I work in the environmental field for a large municipality, and we are just now starting to come to terms with the amount of single use plastics found in everyday products.

Do you think the US (government / businesses) is moving toward meaningful change towards sustainability when it comes to plastic pollution? I know this administration isn't environmentally friendly, but are trends shifting to better waste management of waste products?


joyofjacquie6 karma

My own personal belief about recycling and how it will work, will be that when it makes money or creates meaningful jobs...it will get the support it needs. I wish that it was our own need to clean up the environment and take care of our waste that would drive the changes, but I'm a realist.

Iliekmudkips13371 karma

What do you think of the work being done by John McGheehans group at Portsmouth university on the PETase enzyme? When do you think this enzyme will be a viable way to deal with plastics?

joyofjacquie1 karma

I LOVE this work! But let's back up a bit - these microbes are nature's way of dealing with the plastic waste we have dumped in our environment. I think that is the most amazing thing! I do believe that biological systems, conducted in a responsible and well thought out manner are the right direction for dealing with our waste. Have you ever wondered what sort of nutrients could be made from the degradation products of plastics? We need more minds on this topic!!

AverageSculler1 karma

Thanks for what you do! I’m currently in life sciences myself working in a lab that utilizes many single use plastics. In a past lab that I’ve worked in, a fellow worker employed a PPE recycling program within the university that helped lessen our single use footprint. At the time I didn’t think too much of it, but in a different lab where I’m currently employed we use a lot single use plastics comparable to what you would find in labs that practice sterile technique.

What are some ways that I can start to change the way we handle our biohazardous single use plastics? I work at a relatively large university, so I know they may have the facilities to start a recycling program if it’s appealing enough. Have you dealt with this kind of issue at universities?

joyofjacquie1 karma

Yes, universities are looking (and often very energized) at ways to reduce their waste. The system the Triumvirate is using can sometimes be used for the waste generated by life science research labs, but it needs to be assessed before a decision can be made. The key for the system is to have the highest amount of plastic in the waste stream as possible. I would suggest contacting your Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability (EHS&S) group at your university to see what their thoughts are on developing a program.

thereluctantpoet1 karma

My mother just completed her thesis on community Waste Management, biofuel reclamation and various other related topics. I think her most important observation during this process was in regards to the difficulty in getting stakeholders to get involved in the topic. People in the community don't care and local governments are looking mostly to just save money, making them generally non-receptive to new technologies. Did you find similar obstacles in your specific industry? What incentives (other than doing the right thing for the planet) are there for those creating/distributing/collecting the waste? Fascinating subject, thanks for the AMA!

joyofjacquie1 karma

Yep. That has been a big take-away for me, too. So glad to hear your mom is joining the fight! I'm not sure it's always about people not caring, though. I often find people just aren't curious about where their waste ends up. They haven't been taught to think in this way. Education on how much waste we, individually generate, and where it goes, usually gets people thinking about it.

kczu1 karma

In addition to plastics, do you see any way for pharma companies to mitigate the environmental impacts of drugs in development? Especially those that can't simply be burned or washed down the drain (radiotherapy drugs, antibiotics, etc.). Is some sort of recycling process possible for these compounds?

joyofjacquie2 karma

I'm not as "up" on all the chemical and biological ways to degrade and recycle pharmaceutical wastes. But there are researchers looking at how to best deal with wastewater. I personally believe biological systems will/can help us.

Guest24241 karma

What are some tips and tricks that you think every lab should know about using less plastics? I also work in a lab, and the amount of plastics that I go through in a day or week astound me. We don't really work with biohazards and I'd love to start a green initiative in our lab.

joyofjacquie1 karma

Start with the non-profit organization mygreenlabs.org There are many ways a lab can reduce not just the plastic waste but also the emissions and energy that is used. This organization has everything from tips to a full prgram to certify your lab on how "green" it is.

brodymulligan1 karma

Politically, or otherwise, what is the best way to incentivise corporations to streamline their manufacturing process or design their plastics/polymers for biological and medical use edit: so they are more recyclable and less harmful to the environment?

joyofjacquie1 karma

I think the easiest way to get companies to change is to make it a regulation. At least in the Life Sciences industry, that's what we're used to. We're good at being compliant. Compliance or regulations to recycling used products orpackaging has been easier to get when the product is going to create a hazardous condition when disposed. (think: batteries, paint, tires) Unfortunately, not all countries are going to regulate in the same manner. Europe has many more environmental regulations while the U.S. is moving even further away from this type of practice.

joyofjacquie1 karma

Hello - I need to sign off the AMA - it's been really great hearing from everyone. Such great questions and additional knowledge on such a timely topic! Thanks and have a great day!

stasiana11 karma

This is a very important undertaking. I applaud your efforts.

I work in a hospital pharmacy where EVERYTHING is packed in paper/plastic for sterility. It pains me to see the bags upon bags of plastic we dispose of every day. Our health authority has a recycling program in place, but I sincerely doubt its integrity. I have always wondered exactly where it is going, what happens to it once it's reached the facility, and does the recycling of all this plastic have an impact overall? Or does its process cause more harm than good? I accept that packaging healthcare products for sterility and safety is critical, but have you found any alternative to plastic moving toward? Or is our only solution right now to adopt better recycling practices?

Sorry if repeat/rambling questions. I'm currently at work, drowning in all this plastic waste 😶

joyofjacquie2 karma

I hear you and feel your pain. There is a fine line between packaging something for safety and over-packaging. Either way though, it is very hard to track the waste and particularly that which is going to be recycled. We need a change - something disruptive - that would help track and identify waste. I have heard of micro-sensors and RFID-type micro-devices that may be implanted in plastic packaging that could start to help track waste, but also help identify the type of waste that it is (additives in plastic for example). This could change things dramatically if it take off.

DongleNocker1 karma

what plastic type is the absolute most useless and/or most difficult to meaningfully reprocess?

What type of plastic product would you suggest we just stop using all together since there is a better alternative?

joyofjacquie1 karma

This is a REALLY good question and one that is so hard to answer! I personally love plastic for all of it's abilities to mold, bend, not bend, resist, strengthen, stand up to high or low temperatures and be lighter and less expensive than most metals. So if I were to say which one plastic is most useless, I'm not sure I have an answer!

As for most difficult to process then it would depend on the mix of the other plastics or materials that are being processed along with it. So it's really a situational question. Al plastics can be good or bad.

Let me put this out there, to see if it helps: let's try to reduce our dependence on so much plastic and continually find less harmful and alternatives additives. And let's try to make it so we can easily collect, identify and recycle them all!

CoomassieBlue1 karma

Sorry if this has already been asked, but does this include items like pipette tips? I work in the bioanalytical world and we generate a huge amount of tips running ELISAs manually since a lot of our clients choose not to validate their assays on automated platforms. Moreover, how does the cost of your program compare to common hazardous waste disposal handlers like Stericycle?

joyofjacquie2 karma

I can't comment specifically on costs as there is a lot that goes into setting up a system and each lab/university/pharma/hospital, etc. has different needs. What I have learned about recycling for labs is that there are many roadblocks to actually getting the waste recycled. Even when a lab has good segregation practices, there is still a misunderstanding by the waste haulers in that everything coming out of a lab is potentially hazardous and therefore they won't take it. So there tends to be a single-steam of waste from labs that goes to a handler that can transport it and treat it as bio-waste. Until we can change the mindset and practices, it's not going to change.

topazviper1 karma

I tend to do a lot of "wish-cycling", where something seems like it should be recyclable, so I put it in my single stream recycling bin regardless of its actual recyclability. My logic is that it will end up in the landfill regardless, but if there is a chance it can be recycled then I want to take it. They will just throw it in the garbage if not. Is this a really bad practice? Is there a risk that my entire bag/bin is just thrown away if there are too many non-recyclables?

Also - how clean do food containers really need to be? If I have a sauce container, and there is some stuck to the side, do I need to scrub it out?

joyofjacquie2 karma

You are not alone! I think this may be part of the problem so I would say when in doubt, put it in the trash bin. As for cleaning out food containers, I generally try to rinse them out. My understanding is that the cleaner the better for recycling downstream. However, I'm not always at a place where I can rinse and so I choose to recycle over rinse.

ashyQL1 karma

Which biological sciences Msc courses do you think have more employability chances in the health/medicine field (analysis, hospital labs and such)?

Is the university "worldwide rank" an essential factor when choosing such courses? Are there any other important factors that should be taken into consideration?

I'm currently trying to figure out which career path to take after a Bsc in biotech, loved both microbiology and biochemistry but every single program I can find seems interesting and I'm struggling to figure which path to follow.

There are so many of them and even if I google every single foreign-sounding course I find, I still have no idea about what a normal day of work will be like. (Clinical Microbiology? Medical Microbiology?Applied Microbiology&Biotechnology? Etc etc.)

You mentioned that you started in a lab (which is my goal) and hearing your opinion on this would mean a lot to me.

Thank you so much for this AMA, really hope to hear your opinion

TL;DR: Which Msc course would you suggest, and what can I do to find a job in a healthcare lab?

joyofjacquie2 karma

I can only tell you what worked for me, so I hope this is useful.... I went to work in a research lab after completing a bachelor's in biology. At the time I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I just knew I liked science and figuring things out. I would say the first three years is where I learned how to work. I learned the art of running multiple experiments in the same day; how to train MDs in the fine art of not sending the ultracentrifuge skipping across the lab and how to maintain records that could later be published. I learned how to question, be curious and be resilient when things didn't work out the way I thought they would. All of the skills I learned in that first job are still being used today. I've worked in many fields since then and can only say that no matter what you choose, you can't go wrong. Get experience in something. Be curious about the subject and ask questions, even when you are scared. It's the only way you are ever going to find what you love to do. Then you will know what courses to take and which institution will suit you.

joyofjacquie1 karma

Taking a 15 minute break - but will be back to answer some of the latest questions! Thanks1

Muhleee1 karma

Would you say that recycling should be a part of the school curriculum? Why, or why not be?

joyofjacquie2 karma

If not recycling, then we should be teaching how nature degrades its waste into something else that can be used. And then impress upon the students how humans seem to go against this very natural process.

neuromorph1 karma

for these single use plastics, what makes up the largest volumes?

I cant imagine anything out weighing pipette tips and their containers.

joyofjacquie3 karma

It varies from each manufacturer, but in general we see about 80-120 US Tons per year from a typical GMP plant. The percentage of plastic in this waste stream is pretty high - 85-95%. If you compare this to the typical research facility, there is a lower percentage of plastic. Although, I would agree that research labs need a solution, too. It's just not as easy to get the higher percentage of plastic.

jayman12161 karma

Could getting cities like Boston or Seattle involved as a testing ground help see the impacts of the changes more immediately or does the scale not matter?

joyofjacquie2 karma

I think "scale" helps to produce the financial benefit when dealing with large quantities of plastic that get down-cycled. But what I'm trying to get my head around these days are systems that can produce a much higher value commodity from the waste plastic so that smaller volumes can be recycled in remote areas.

Transportation of waste is another issue that no one really talks about, so getting all the waste into one pile in one location takes a lot of effort and produces emissions. We need to factor this into the recycling equation, too.

DEAD_P1XL0 karma

Have you ever heard of Stericycle? They do this and so much more, internationally, for a long time.

joyofjacquie1 karma

Yes, I have heard of them. When I last checked they didn't have the recycling/manufacuring component in their systems. If something has changed, then please let me know, I'm always interested in advancement in this field!