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Research project title

Towards environmentally friendly biotechnology research: Optimization and validation of a cleaning process for plastic laboratory consumables

Education level

Master (research-based)


Director: Marc Lavertu

End of display

January 31, 2024

Areas of expertise

Biomedical engineering

Chemical engineering

Mechanical engineering


Unit(s) and department(s)

Department of Chemical Engineering

In partnership with startup company Phoenix Impact inc.


Starting date: September 2023, or possibly January 2024

To apply, send a CV to

Detailed description

Single-use plastics have become one of the key targets in the fight against climate change. And yet, in a typical biotech lab, we are surrounded by disposable plastic consumables (test tubes, pipettes, cell culture plates, etc.).

Unfortunately, this plastic is often not even recycled, due to the possibility of biological contamination. Indeed, most of the single-use plastics in research labs, once used, are sent for high-temperature incineration.

In 2014, it was estimated that that global biological, medical and agricultural research generates 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, more than all of Canada (all sectors combined). However, several recent articles seem to demonstrate that many of these plastics could actually be used several times, if they were properly cleaned and decontaminated.


The proposed master's project is part of a larger research project with aims to develop and validate a process for the reconditioning of plastic consumables used in research laboratories in the biotechnology sector. The project is divided into the following sub-goals:

  1. Determine which plastic consumables can be reused, and in which contexts,
  2. Develop a battery of tests to determine
    1. The quality of cleaning
    2. The quality / properties of the cleaned plastics
  3. Optimize an environmentally friendly cleaning and decontamination process for the most frequently used plastic consumables
    1. Optimization from the point of view of environmental impact
    2. Optimization in terms of simplicity and number of steps
  4. Validate the process and the associated tests with several laboratories (academic and industrial).

The master's student will ideally take care of sub-objectives 2.b and 3.b and will also take part in sub-objective 4 (possible discussion depending on the student's affinities).

During this master's degree, the student will have the opportunity to develop, among others, the following skills:

  • Application of good laboratory practices
  • Autonomy and initiative, leadership
  • Multidisciplinary skills (bio/chemistry/mechanics)
  • Opportunity to develop transversal skills depending on the student's degree of interest in establishing links between the world of research and the world of entrepreneurship
  • Opportunity to learn more about sustainable development concepts, such as life cycle analysis.


This project will be carried out in partnership with Phoenix Impact Inc., a start-up company. The student will have the opportunity to work closely with different companies during the process validation phases (objective 4).

The student will be supported throughout the project by Fiona Milano, Ph.D. student and co-founder of Phoenix Impact.


Recommended Skills

  • Basic knowledge in biology and chemistry
  • Basic knowledge of mechanical properties of materials and surfaces
  • Autonomy and proactivity
  • Previous laboratory experience is a plus
  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Interest in mobilizing one’s knowledge outside academia and establishing contacts with industry
  • Willingness to have a positive impact from an environmental point of view
  • Curiosity about the world of entrepreneurship is a plus

Financing possibility

The project is funded by a guaranteed grant of $40,000. Support will also be offered to help the student obtain their own scholarships and improve their funding.

Marc Lavertu

Marc Lavertu

Associate Professor

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