Stanford University

Modification Opportunities

There are many opportunities for laboratories to minimize chemical waste by modifying processes. Incorporate the sustainable practices below into your research whenever possible.

Analytical equipment modifications

Consider making the following analytical equipment modifications:

  • Perform instrumentation and automation upgrades.
  • In gas chromatographs, use capillary columns instead of micropore or large-diameter columns.
  • In high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), use capillary or micropore columns instead of large-bore columns.
  • Purchase smaller-volume, multielement standards that can be used for both AA and ICP.
  • Use 3M Empore disks for organic solid-phase extraction (EPA Method 525).
  • For TCLP, use 1L of water to wash filtration vessels instead of 3L, and use a 25-mL extract rather than a 50 mL extract.

Neutralization, deactivation, and recovery modifications

Consider the following neutralization, deactivation, and recovery practices:

  • Add a treatment or deactivation step to all procedures. (Please check with EH&S before proceeding.)
  • Add distillation steps to experimental procedures to recover solvents.
  • Neutralize and distill methanol, acetic acid, and radioactive isotope solutions from gel electrophoresis studies and reuse the methanol.

Radioactive material use modifications

Consider the following radioactive material use modifications:

  • Use supercompaction for solid radioactive waste.
  • Store short half-life radioactive or mixed waste for decay.
  • Use 2.5-mL scintillation minivials rather than 10-mL (adapters are available for 10-mL racks).
  • Use membranes to count cells rather than scintillation fluid (P-32 counted without scintillation fluid by the Cerenkov method on the tritium setting of a liquid scintillation counter – 40% efficiency).
  • Use I-125 counted without scintillation fluid in a gamma counter.

Other possibilities

  • Consider changing or simplifying procedures for sustainability, e.g. eliminating the methanol gel fixing step in gel electrophoresis if it is not necessary, as this eliminates methanol, acetic acid, and radioactive mixed waste.
  • Use microscaling techniques.

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