Shelly Carpenter’s lab in the Marine Sciences building was a perfect test site for UW’s new Green Lab Certification Program, which officially launched Monday.
A lab manager in the School of Oceanography, Carpenter described herself as an aggressive recycler. Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic packaging — she keeps it all out of the trash.
Now, the Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office (ESS) can recognize researchers like Carpenter who make the push for sustainability. Any lab worker on campus can apply for a rating — bronze, silver, or gold — based on their environmental impact.
Carpenter hoped the program would help popularize thorough recycling in labs. Right now, she said, the infrastructure isn’t there in many cases.
“The amount of waste a lab generates — plastic waste, packaging waste — it just piles up,” Carpenter said. “We created [recycling systems] for all our food containers at a residential level, but these sort of things don’t exist in a laboratory setting.”
The certification is voluntary and has 66 questions. Each question falls within a specific category such as water use, energy conservation, and chemical disposal. Since “lab” is an umbrella term for a wide array of facilities that serve vastly different functions, applicants answer only the questions that apply to their work.