The natural Earth works through a closed-loop system where nothing is wasted, and everything works together to support each other’s life cycle. As humans and technology have evolved, we have shifted from a closed-loop system to a more linear approach. The mantra of this approach is take, make, and dispose. Much of the Earth’s waste ends up in landfills where the trash is supposed to stay isolated while decomposing very, very slowly. However, not all waste decomposes gracefully, if at all. The increase of trash in landfills has created a threat to our environment in the form of toxic waste.
Toxic Waste and the Environment
According to Dosomething.org, E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it creates 70% of overall toxic waste. This E-waste includes broken lab equipment, dated chemistry lab equipment, and any other lab supplies that are thrown into a dumpster. Toxic waste can be harmful to all species on our planet, including plants, animals, and humans. Though complex processes have been put in place to protect us from toxic waste, it still ends up in the environment from time to time, posing a threat to our health. Some toxins, such as mercury and lead, persist in the environment for many years and accumulate over time. It’s become very evident that eating into a finite supply of resources that produce toxic waste is not sustainable for our environment.
A “Landfill Last” Solution
So this poses the question, how can our waste build capital rather than reduce it? Through implementing a circular economy! A circular economy is an economical approach in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them, then recover products and materials at the end of each service life. Only then will any residual waste from this process reach our landfills. Through this process, we can ensure that nonbiodegradable waste, such as used lab equipment, adopts a return and reuse policy.
It’s our social responsibility to carry out a “landfill last” mantra. For over 20 years, we have been taking in gently used laboratory equipment, restoring it, and bringing it to the scientific community at a reduced price. We have created a shift from a high focus on lab equipment distributors prospering as individuals to supporting a system where we can benefit alongside our environment. This means that lab equipment used at one facility can also be of use by another facility further down the line at a fraction of the cost. Many lab equipment distributors have not yet adopted these practices, but we have worked with several fortune 500 companies to reduce waste and practice reusing their capital equipment. Through our efforts, we estimate that REUZEit has redeployed over 10 million pounds of laboratory equipment since 2012.