SLS Sustainability Team visit UoD waste contractor

Published on 11 December 2019

The team were met by a number of members of NWH who explained how the facility operates.

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The School of Life Sciences Sustainability Action Team recognises that SLS produces quite a large amount of polymer waste, some of which is not biologically contaminated and therefore fit for recycling. In early Autumn, the team visited the sorting facility of NWH, our waste contractor in order to discuss first hand what best practice should be.

The team were met by a number of members of NWH who explained how the facility operates. They were Willie Sinclair, the account manager; Ronnie, the waste specialist and Kevin, the depot manager.

The key outcome of the visit was that plastic waste can be recycled. NWH picks up our waste at SLS-Stores daily. Therefore, we can add our plastic waste to the load. It will be compacted and send to a mill (Van Werven, UK) in Selby, England. There, the mix of polymers will be ground up (milled) and then the beads are sorted (by density) and can be used again for new products. The team were assured that the plastic is not just shipped abroad!

How do you prepare plastic waste for disposal?

  1. Make sure that the plastic is clean and dry. Empty, thoroughly rinse and then air dry any vessels.
  2. It must be placed into transparent bags, ideally marked as plastic recycling. For example: “ mixed PET / HDPE for recycling – clean and dry”
  3. Labels can stay on the items, although it is better to remove them. 
  4. The best place for storage and daily uplift is room G L1-07, beside SLS-Stores. NWH picks up twice a day!

What can be recycled?

We can recycle the following items, which make up the bulk of recyclable plastic anyway:

  • HDPE bottles (2.5L)  for Ethanol, Propanol, Methanol, Qiagen bottles
  • HDPE tubs for LB medium, glycine, Tris Base etc,
  • PET bottles (500ml and 1L) for DMEM, DPBS, Insect medium etc,
  • PP vessels,
  • PE vessels,
  • any clean, dry and millable plastic, even coloured plastic.

What cannot be recycled?

  • contaminated plastic, such as reaction vials
  • foil or membranes
  • polystyrene including expanded polystyrene boxes


  • Any waste in black bags will be incinerated!
  • If our plastic waste in not clean or if it is wet, it will be incinerated ( the whole bag ).
  • No other items such as paper, metal, food mixed in with plastic.

Thanks to Axel Knebel (UoD) and Willie Sinclair (NWH) who arranged the visit. Ian Newton who arranged transport from the UoD, ISE and drove the team to the site.

SLS Sustainability Team members who visited NWH waste disposal site: Axel Knebel, Ian Newton, Alison Hart, Kirsten McLeod, Irene Hallyburton, Ryan Webster, Michael Hannan, Jennifer Riley, Clare Johnson, Sarah Niven.

Any questions, please email the sustainability group: 

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