My Green Labs: Waste Not
Jan 27, 2020
Jan 27, 2020
As sustainability becomes increasingly important, laboratories have emerged as the next major frontier. The opportunity for energy reduction is enormous, as laboratories consume 5-10 times more energy per square foot than typical offices. Similarly, research facilities also offer disproportionate opportunities for water conservation, waste reduction, and more sustainable selection of consumables, reagents, and process equipment. A 2015 article in the journal Nature estimated that lab plastics accounted for 5.5 million tons of waste in 2014, equating lab plastic waste with 83% of the total plastic recycled worldwide in 2012.
This outsized consumption is largely due to the fact that laboratory operations are rarely critically examined. Walk into any laboratory and you’re bound to see equipment left on 24/7, fume hood sashes left open, packaging material – especially EPS coolers – piling up, and materials that could be recycled discarded into the trash. This happens not because it has to be this way, but because this is the way it’s always been.
It’s time to change this. Whether you work in a lab or sell products into a lab, you can make a meaningful contribution to reducing the environmental impact of laboratories.
Imagine what the world would look like if instead of doing things the way they’ve always been done, we acted with awareness and intent. The life sciences industry is three times larger than the building products industry and just over half the size of the automotive industry. Working together to reduce waste – whether landfill waste, hazardous waste, or by reducing energy and water consumption – would have a profound impact on our planet.
My Green Lab is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to transforming the life sciences, industrial sciences, and healthcare industries by building a culture of sustainability through science. We work with scientists and research organizations to improve environmental health and resource utilization. Our members and supporters range from small laboratories to some of the scientific community’s largest corporations and academic institutions. Run “for scientists, by scientists,” we leverage our credibility and track record to develop standards, oversee their implementation, and inspire the many behavioral changes that are needed throughout the scientific community. In addition to motivating behavioral changes in and around the lab through easily and rapidly implementable tools with clear measurement and verification, we are also leading data-driven research into environmental health impacts and resource consumption.
My Green Lab’s work has been featured in Science, Nature, Women in Science, Medium, and Sustainable Brands. Our efforts have been celebrated by the Department of Human Health and Services, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL).