The Animal Resource department has implemented sustainable practices by utilizing water and energy reducing systems and collaborating with the RightCycle Program by Kimberly Clark to recycle personal protective equipment (PPE) in their labs.
Animal Resource has two components: the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) and the Vivarium. The DCM is an academic division of the University’s Medical School that provides research initiatives as well as veterinary care programs including training, preventative medicine, clinical, and diagnostic professional services. The Vivarium complements the DCM by providing procurement, housing, and care of laboratory animals.
The Vivarium has been implementing waste and energy reduction initiatives. The energy required to heat cage wash water to 180C has been reduced by using cold water in one of two wash cycles. The system runs similar to an automatic car wash and utilizes less water than manually cleaning the cages that house laboratory animals, including about 60,000 mice. Additionally, energy efficient reach-in coolers have replaced large, energy-hungry, walk-in coolers. This switch is not only more convenient, but also more environmentally sustainable in terms of energy usage.
The vivarium has also diverted around 17,000 pounds of examination gloves and gowns from landfills through the RightCycle initiative. The RightCycle Program by Kimberly Clark collects hard-to-recycle personal protective equipment (PPE) and process them into plastic pellets which are then molded into patio furniture, flower pots and planters, plastic shelving, recycling bins, and more. The RightCycle Program has helped divert over 300 tons of waste from landfills since 2011 with the help of over 150 customers, including the University.
Within the next month, Animal Resource plans to eliminate the need for shoe covers in its biosecure vivarium by replacing them with a decontamination floor mat. Professor and Chair of Comparative Medicine Jeff Wyatt states, “We’ve been trying our best to be green and sustainable. We hope that the several departments within the hospital and across campus contacting us with an interest soon begin recycling PPE to highlight to the Rochester community our institutional commitment to promote sustainability.”
To learn how your department, lab, or other projects can participate in this waste reduction initiative, you may contact Professor and Chair of Comparative Medicine Jeff Wyatt.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022.
Photo credit: RightCycle by Kimberly-Clark