Single-use plastic is a topic that receives a lot of attention in the press and has catalyzed efforts to reduce the amount that is found in the ocean. Although the bulk of this pollution comes from consumer waste, the growing use of plastic in laboratories and biopharma manufacturing has not gone unnoticed. It has been estimated that 5.5 million tons of plastic waste is being generated globally for scientific research. In biopharma manufacturing, the utilization of single-use technologies (SUT) is said to be increasing by 20-24% each year. MilliporeSigma, a supplier to the biopharma industry, recognized that SUT was on the rise and developed a recycling program to address this waste stream. Since its inception in 2015, the program has recycled over 4,600 tons of SUT plastic.
Creating a recycling program to address the plastic waste generated in the biopharma industry was no easy task. The waste products from SUT are a large part of the problem. The products are made with several types of plastic and are often classified as biohazardous, making them ineligible for recycling through current methodologies. Through several iterations and pilots, MilliporeSigma was able to partner with a firm that specialized in recycling and manufacturing processes for biohazardous mixed plastic waste. This unique process was well-suited to the waste profile coming from the biopharma industry.
KEYWORDS: MilliporeSigma, biopharma, biopharma recycling, circular economy, sustainable science, single use plastics, Recycling