Tip Box Recycling Team

Project Technician
Environment, Health, and Safety Office
Sustaining MIT
Award presented by
Cynthia Barnhart, Provost

The next recipient of the Excellence Award for Sustaining MIT is actually eight people—the Tip Box Recycling Team. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “What exactly is a tip box?” Just briefly, scientists use plastic syringes while doing research — to pull liquid out of a test tube, for example. If you haven’t seen it in a lab, you’ve probably seen it on TV. These are called pipettes, and researchers dispose of them safely in what is called a tip box. And pipettes and tip boxes quickly add up.

In fact, a team from MIT’s Environmental Health and Safety Office discovered that the plastic waste generated by research institutions worldwide equates to something like 5.5 million tons per year. If you’re adding it up in your head, let me help—that’s about the weight of 67 cruise ships.

The tip box team worked with an MIT alumnus who founded a lab-waste recycling company. The team then spread the word across the Institute and put a collection system in place. Today, the tip box team is responsible for recycling roughly 550 pounds of plastic a week from more than 100 labs. And, according to a colleague, they’re just getting started. “The Tip Box Recycling Team has shown inspiring initiative, innovative thinking, and a strong commitment to lab sustainability.”

Congratulations to:

  • John R. Collins, Project Technician
  • Michael A. DeBerio, Project Technician
  • Normand J. Desrochers III, Technician B
  • Mitchell S. Galanek, Associate Director
  • David M. Pavone, Project Technician
  • Ryan Samz, RPP Officer
  • Rosario Silvestri, Project Technician
  • Lu Zhong, Senior Application and Database Developer