While our community is accelerating scientific research, the fact is, we’re creating a lot of waste in the process. But laboratories can make efforts to reduce their environmental impact, and yours can be one of them.
In a 2015 study at the University of Exeter using their own bioscience department’s annual plastic waste, they deduced that biologically-oriented laboratories worldwide could be responsible for 5.5 million tons of plastic waste yearly.
The US EPA estimates that reducing laboratory energy use by 30% would reduce US energy consumption by 84 trillion BTU’s – the equivalent of removing 1.3 million cars from our highways.
Laboratories are finding innovative solutions that not only meet their research needs, but also increase eco-efficiency.
And yours can too.
Here’s what you can do to reduce your lab’s environmental footprint:
#1: Participate in recycling initiatives
Kimberly-Clark RightCycle Program
The RightCycle Program is a groundbreaking service that enables you to collect previously hard-to-recycle items, such as nitrile gloves, safety eyewear, and single-use apparel items, and have them turning into new consumer goods. Through this program you can:
- Reach your organization’s sustainability goals
- Divert waste from the landfill in support of zero-waste to landfill initiatives
- Give your used nitrile gloves, safety eyewear, and single-use apparel items a new life by aiding the creation of new consumer goods like flower pots, patio furniture, and plastic shelving
- Reduce your waste disposal costs
- Protect the planet for future generation
#2: Make the switch to consumables with a focus on sustainability
Labcon, a major supplier of disposable plastics is also driving sustainability initiatives. We understand the important role single-use plastics play in scientific research. That’s why we’re proud to be able to offer our customers innovative, low-waste consumables that still provide reliable, high-quality performance.
Labcon has pioneered eco-efficiency in laboratory consumables – using less packaging, recycled plastics, and refillable packages. Labcon’s pipette tip reloading systems eliminate 90% of the packaging waste in typical products of their kind.
#3: Consider greener and bio-renewable solvents for chemical processes
It’s now easy for everyone, from the smallest universities to the largest pharmaceutical technology companies, to implement greener chemistry. Simply replace classic petroleum solvents in your current workflows with Sigma Aldrich bio-renewable alternatives.
These solvents are free from many by-products of petroleum manufacturing, such as benzene, aldehydes, and ethers. Each solvent is verified as renewable through ASTM testing (ASTM Standard D6866-16), which verifies the percentage of new carbon.
#4: Investigate energy-efficient ultra-low freezers for sample storage
Ultra-low freezers are one of the biggest energy users in a lab. Older units sometimes use as much energy as a typically household, every day. Thanks to the evolution of technology, Thomas Scientific now offers units that use 50% of the energy of just a few years ago, yet still offer high-performance and reliable cooling of your samples.
Haier BioMedical’s energy-efficient line of ultra-low freezers use approximately 8 kWh/day (20 cubic ft model) – compared to 16-18 kWh/day for traditional ULT freezers. Employing a hydrocarbon refrigerant and using both vacuum panel and traditional insultation, Haier obtains a compact form with excellent insultation.
#5: Acetonitrile waste recovery for oligonucleotide synthesis
The commercial launch of the oligo-based drugs currently in the pipeline will result in a large waste stream and high disposal cost. To manage the cost of consumables in the oligo-synthesis process, potential acetonitrile (ACN) shortage issues, and address the environmental burden of the waste stream, there is acute need in the industry to reclaim and reuse the ACN. Honeywell Burdick & Jackson has developed and patented a process for the oligo-synthesis industry to reclaim and reuse ACN in oligo synthesis.
RECOVER AND REUSE ACETONITRILE
- Collect acetonitrile wash after every step
- Reclaim collected acetonitrile
- Reuse for subsequent oligonucleotide synthesis
- Increases available acetonitrile supply
- Reduces acetonitrile disposal cost
- Decreases environmental burden of ACN incineration
- Cost effective