Researcher: Joren Van Loon
Supervisor: Els Du Bois

Annually 5.5 million tonnes of plastic lab waste is estimated to be generated in research labs worldwide. Critical consumables account for a large proportion of this amount; the development of alternatives that fit into the circular economy would have a significant influence on the quantity of waste created.

Currently, most lab plastic consumables are only used once and then disposed of as hazardous waste. This project aims to grow with the chemistry sector towards a circular economy. Within this transition, the objective is to design out waste. Concretely, a theoretical framework for designers will be proposed that specifies the variables, as well as the management of these variables, required to achieve longer product lifetimes and circularity. The resulting framework will take into account (i) context variables, (ii) usage variables, (iii) design variables and (iv) material, and will be tested in collaboration with 6 already identified labs. This selection of variables corresponds with the regular product development trajectory. Using design inclusive research methodology will be the first time to analyse this problem.

Partners: Chemical labs of the University of Antwerp and Ghent
Period: 01/10/2019 – 31/09/2023