UCLA has banned all uses of polystyrene (Styrofoam) materials across the campus, with the exception of laboratories. Styrofoam is widely used across UCLA’s on-campus laboratories to ensure that temperature-sensitive items are well insulated during transit. Styrofoam is known to be an enormous source of hazardous waste and has an extensive post-consumer lifespan of about 500 years or longer. Styrofoam can sometimes be repurposed or recycled; however, not all recycling facilities have the ability to process this material. This makes finding alternative materials and alternative recycling practices vital.
Our mission as the 2021 SAR Green Labs team is to identify the sources of styrofoam that are used in UCLA’s laboratories and the current disposal practices through surveys targeting UCLA labs. We will also conduct interviews with lab supply vendors as well as other UC campuses’ green lab initiatives. We will then research viable and reasonably-priced alternatives for laboratory supplies and packaging (such as cardboard coolers). We would also like to explore the arrangement of effective take-back or recycling programs. Upon finding these alternatives for styrofoam in the laboratories, the team would like to present a waste diversion plan and recommend them to UC researchers and departments in order to ensure that UCLA can reach its zero waste goals.
Team Leaders: Emilee Hosking, Yuerong Xiao
Team Members: Jinsuh Jung-Aum, David Park, Ahalya Sabaratnam, Nicholas Yoshioka
Check out our Final Report!