When you think of going "green" in the laboratory, does it sound like a distraction? The truth is that there are big benefits to updating your lab material flow system. There are good reasons why research institutions and corporations have re-invented how labs work to facilitate sustainability. Consider the following impact areas of laboratory waste.
Eliminate laboratory waste because it eats into research funding. The materials that research laboratories consume have both upfront and back end costs. These costs result in part from extra labor and extra energy usage. Not to mention surplus stocks that directly use up funding, while adding to disposal costs. Lab equipment and space that goes un-shared and underutilized is also a considerable monetary waste.
Cut lab waste because you love nature! Scientists wonder at the beauty of nature. Thoughtful lab material choices can help to preserve natural resources. Green chemistry avoids pollution. Public funding of scientific research makes environmental accountability implicit. How scientists work should represent why they work.
Human health and well being
Science work is better in sustainable lab space. Dealing with lab waste is a mental distraction and sometimes a health hazard. The more hazardous waste created, the more work that is involved to maintain lab safety. Whereas planning experiments with sustainable materials, designed for easy, eco-friendly disposal, makes the lab becomes a healthier workplace. Sharing specialized equipment space can allow for additional support staff, also saving time for researchers. A mind free from all of these concerns is freer to expand scientific thought.
Lab minimalism is practical laboratory management
There are solutions to minimize laboratory waste, i.e. automated inventory systems that incorporate environmentally preferred purchasing. Please enjoy this ~25 minute webinar created by Labconscious, and the life science reagents company New England Biolabs, for the University of Virginia's Green Lab Event series.
We hope it will inspire life scientists to go green!
There’s a common misconception that going green is expensive and a distracting obligation for large organizations. Few realize that it’s possible to create a greener lab space while actually reducing costs! Artificial intelligence tools can offer significant insight to any organization. Laboratories can reduce energy consumption and thus save money while simultaneously increasing lab productivity and protecting precious lab samples. Let's examine this technology in further detail.
Life sciences laboratories are another area in which plastic waste can be reduced. Approximately 5.5 million tons of plastic waste are produced every year in life sciences laboratories alone, including items like pipette tips, nitrile gloves and cell culture flasks. In the age of global waste pollution and the ubiquity of plastic in the world around us, this is definitely too much. It can’t all be changed, but improvements are possible in some areas.
To get to the stage at VERGE, Rheaply is depending on scientific community members (like YOU) to vote by August 30th. This would not only be an opportunity for Rheaply’s platform to be seen by many. It’s a big opportunity to promote awareness of the millions of tons of surplus and equipment that could be shared by scientists across the country.
Molecular biology grad student Samantha Romanick brings environmental stewardship to campuses by advancing re-fill and re-use options for all. Read her interview and watch her talk to learn more!
Scientists who incorporate lab sustainability into the culture of life science are doing the right thing for their communities. The Boston area is the proud home to an extraordinarily high number of biologists, pushing the frontiers of science. In a sense it’s quite the contrast, The city is now nearly 400 years old! But, let’s just say that historical construction planners for greater Boston did not foresee supporting so many labs.
14467028 - nightime view of cambridge, massachusetts
Northwestern University has an ace in the hole when it comes to making good use of lab surplus. Labs at the world-renowned Fineberg Shool of Medicine are now connected via a cloud-based resource-sharing technology, called Rheaply. Rheaply combines the ease of use of social media ease with the marketplace functionality of an ebay. No barcode labels necessary!
First off, people were fired up during the panel discussion. It was terrific. The audience and panelists critically examined typical lab practices and the effectiveness of ways to reduce waste. This is a great podcast to listen to over lunch. You can also read the full transcript of the green symposium podcast on the New England Biolabs web site, which includes helpful links to the resources mentioned.
Labs worldwide are faced with new challenges for recycling and waste reduction! View these expert talks, and read about their solutions for reducing laboratory waste. Over 50 Boston area life scientists attended the Go Green Symposium to get the latest information on laboratory sustainability.
Today’s blog is about (truly) bio-degradable Nodax™ PHA plastic, produced by the biotech company Danimer Scientific. Nodax™ PHA was invented some time ago, but its commercialization has just been ignited by food industry investments. Expect this bioplastic to spread like wildfire.
As the U.S. recycling industry undergoes a transformation, life scientists are looking for trustworthy, local recyclers to meet the challenge of processing lab plastic. Recycling systems work when they are convenient and space efficient. Boston area lab facilities have a new service option that does just that!