Improve the Sustainability of your Laboratory
As part of our dedication to support environmental protection, here’s our tips and suggestions to help improve the sustainability of your laboratory and be more environmentally friendly.
In a time where we are all increasingly aware of the destructive effects of climate change and pollution, protecting the natural environment has never been more important.
Switch it off!
Studies have shown that modern laboratories can consume up to as much as three times the energy of office buildings of the same size. By making the following adjustments, you can not only increase the efficiency of your lab but also lower your ‘leccy bill’!
· Turning off non-essential equipment when it’s not in use.
· Installing lighting retrofits, LEDs, motion and timed lights, as well as utilising natural light.
· Encouraging energy-saving behaviour in staff.
Waste not, want not
Anyone who has worked in a lab will be aware that they can generate a huge amount of waste. From single-use plastics and packaging, to chemical and electrical equipment.
A way to improve sustainability in your laboratory is to encourage more environmentally friendly practices. The following suggestions can be used to produce more sustainable lab practices when discarding used equipment;
· Improve waste-management and recycling by labelling bins and ensuring all lab staff are trained in waste-disposal.
· Order equipment from sustainable suppliers.
· Switch plastics for glass where possible.
· Close the fume hood when not in use.
· Reduce water usage.
· Reuse boxes and tip boxes.
Take it back now, y’all!
A number of suppliers now offer a “take back” scheme, in which they collect discarded lab items or packaging free of charge. This is a
great way to encourage recycling and reduce waste from your lab. Check with your current suppliers to see if they offer these
return schemes, or inspire them to start!
When I was a lad at university, lecturers would print off hundreds of pages of lab instructions and booklets for students. While not only
being incredibly unhygienic (you can’t sterilise paper!), the unnecessary waste was enough to make you wince. Luckily by the time I progressed to my masters degree, our university had moved on to the more high-tec iPads in ziploc plastic bags.
This is just one example of how switching from paper to digital can save energy, waste and also increase efficiency by collectivising
Turn over a new leaf!
The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) programme is a certification scheme and initiative, designed to improve sustainability in laboratories. As well as environmental protection in labs.
The scheme takes into account lab efficiency in a number of areas, including; equipment, people, waste, sample and chemical management, and research quality. These criteria are then ranked on sustainability practices and awarded bronze, silver or gold.
This scheme is a fantastic way to improve your staff and other students’ understanding of environmental sustainability in your laboratory through a nationally recognised programme. Find out more information from the UCL here.
Life-science labs can produce large volumes of physical and electrical waste, which can contribute to environmental pollution and climate change. By implementing some of the suggestions above, laboratories can begin to limit unsustainable practices and reverse damaging trends.
Every individual should be doing their part to preserve and protect this beautiful planet. Today of all days, we should be considering what we can do to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Happy Earth Day!
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