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Green Labs Pilot Programs

Lomi Tabletop Composter Program

Lomi Signage Information
What is a Lomi? Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Lomi - 3rd Floor Chen
Lomi Third Floor Chen Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Lomi Signage
Lomi Signage Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Did you notice our Lomi tabletop composters in some BBE kitchen areas?

Green Labs has deployed it's first Pilot Program! We have installed Lomi tabletop composters in the three Chen kitchen areas, a kitchen in Broad, and a kitchen in Beckman Institute in an effort to tackle food waste at Caltech. We will collect data on the usage of these devices to encourage adoption of sustainable lunchtime practices for labs in BBE. In just a few hours per run, these Lomi composters transform our food waste into usable compost dirt that our gardeners are able to use to fertilize the lovely gardens here at Caltech!

Lomi Compost Dirt
Lomi composters placed in the Chen kitchen areas have converted 200 Liters (53 gallons!) of food waste into compost dirt that has been diverted to the Caltech Gardens. Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Our plan: The composters are going to be run by Green Labs colleagues as needed ~5 pm – 10 pm to make usable compost dirt. If the composters are full or running, we will have small compost bins available beside the Lomi for people to add their food scraps to, or satellite bins that folks can fill up for transport to a Lomi. Signs indicating what can and cannot go into our composters are posted near the garbage cans and near each Lomi. We will be collecting data to show just how much food waste we are producing, and how valuable this food waste can be if diverted correctly. We hope to use this data to encourage Caltech to adopt more sustainable practices and invest more heavily in composting programs on campus.

We eventually want to make the machines available to "borrow" for large events (coming soon!), so if you have an event you'd like to borrow one for, please let us know and we will try to make it available!

Update: Since April, we have diverted about 714 kg (1574 lbs) of food waste! The Lomi composters have reduced that food waste to about 143 kg (315 lbs) of dirt that the Caltech Gardens are using to fertilize the wonderful campus grounds.

April 2024 Food Waste Diversion

April 2024 Lomi Dirt Created

Here is more information on Lomi composters.

Here is the Lomi Manual.

TipOne and Genesee Pipette Tip Box and Wafer Recycling Programs

Recycling Map
Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Pipette Tip Box Recycling Signage
Pipette Tip Box Recycling Signage Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Genesee Signage
Credit: Tasha Cammidge

Have you noticed new tip box recycling points near the mail boxes (or auditoriums *) in Alles, BI, Braun, Broad (*), Chen, and Spalding?

Pipette tip box recycling
In the first month, Green Labs has diverted 600 Liters (180 gallons!) of plastic waste that would have otherwise not been recycled. Credit: Trinity Dorger

Green Labs has partnered with USA Scientific and Genesee to implement pilot recycling programs for pipette tip boxes and wafers from TipOne or Genesee-affiliated brands! NO PIPETTE TIPS PLEASE

Please deposit ONLY your TipOne or Genesee tip boxes and wafers here, and our vendors will either redistribute these plastics to other labs in need, or will recycle these wafers and boxes within their company. In this way, USA Scientific and Genesee are making the end-of-life waste challenges of their own products a priority, thus closing the loop, and making our labs more sustainable!

Contact Trinity Dorger from USA Scientific or Erik Lawson from Genesee when the bins are full, so they can pick up our recycling bins and redistribute or recycle the pipette tip containers.

Update: Since May we have diverted over 2530 gallons (9570+ liters, about 1120 pounds) of plastic waste that would have otherwise not been recycled!

Our plan: Our current recycling vendor does not accept these kinds of plastics, so they are currently being diverted to the landfill. As such, Green Labs wants to collect information during the next few months on the volume of tip boxes, wafers, etc, that Caltech BBE labs are "wasting". Then, we can see if other vendors are interested in starting recycling programs on campus, OR if there is a better solution to deal with the volume of plastics (for example: a plastic chipper).

Contact Erik Lawson from Genesee when the bins are full. Also, be sure to check out Genesee's website, and email our rep for discounted quotes on pipette tips and many other lab essentials, including biodegradable gloves!

Here is more information about Genesee's sustainability commitments.

Styrofoam Recycling Program

Styrofoam Petition Poster
Credit: Tasha Cammidge

In 2024, Green Labs is excited to launch a Styrofoam Recycling Program!

This project will take a few months to get off the ground, so stay tuned for updates.

In the meantime, please see below for more information on Styrofoam and its harmful effects on us and our environment .

Click here to sign our petition asking vendors to reduce the amount of Styrofoam being sent to campus, and asking Caltech to develop a permanent Styrofoam recycling program.

We, the staff, students, and faculty at Caltech, sign below to support the reduction of Polystyrene (Styrofoam) waste at Caltech.

Polystyrene has massive effects on our planet and does not biodegrade. It is made from fossil fuels that are non-renewable and chemicals that can leach into and contaminate our environment. Animals ingest this material and can be poisoned or killed. Polystyrene is considered a possible carcinogen by the National Institutes of Health. This material is not able to be recycled in Pasadena and its sale and distribution has been banned in Pasadena as of April, 2023.

Please sign here to show your commitment to this initiative.

We are asking labs to commit to:

  1. Asking vendors to reduce their reliance Polystyrene (Styrofoam) and transition to more sustainable, recyclable, or compostable options that are just as effective as Polystyrene.
  2. Asking vendors to offer send-back programs to reuse their Polystyrene containers.
  3. Where possible, asking labs aggregate or reduce our purchases that rely on Polystyrene, and/or to choose vendors that offer more sustainable shipping solutions.
  4. Investigating Polystyrene recycling, reduction, or re-use programs on our campus.

We as scientists are acutely aware of the negative impact our research often has on the environment. By working towards a more sustainable future, and by asking for more sustainable resources for our research, we are eager to add fuel to this proverbial fire to continue the success of our sustainable programs and initiatives.

Please sign here to show your commitment to this initiative.

Do you have a pilot project you would like us to pursue?

Fill out the form below or fill out an application form. (Submissions officially open in June 2023.)