Laboratories run with many resources. And they create large carbon footprints. Therefore, laboratory owners must implement the best practices to reduce their carbon footprint and make their laboratories eco-friendly.
So, what are the ways for making your laboratory eco-friendly? Here are some of them:
Reduce Energy Usage
The usage of scientific equipment consumes enormous amounts of energy. And purchasing new energy-efficient equipment is not always feasible. So, what you can best do is reduce the usage of such equipment. It will not only contribute to reducing carbon footprint but also saving money.
- Put ‘Turn Off’ stickers on equipment and light switches to remind employees to turn them off when not in use.
- Turn off fume hoods when not in use. They are among the enormous energy-consuming devices in the laboratory.
- Switch off computers after work hours. When not in use, put them to sleep mode to reduce electricity consumption.
- Put off all small appliances when not in use.
- Lower the thermostat after your employees leave for home. There can be no point in wasting electricity heating a laboratory when no one is working.
- Reduce the usage of overhead lights as much as possible. Instead, use task lights. Overhead lights can consume 10 to 20 percent of your laboratory’s energy. Lighting the work desks requires less energy than lighting the whole room.
- Cover your water bath to reduce heat loss, requiring lower energy consumption.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
It will also help if you avail of the services of a competent laboratory audit agency to guide you to reduce energy consumption. Once you measure your energy usage, you can devise ways to lower the consumption to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
Maintain Freezers Frequently
Maintaining your laboratory freezers frequently is an essential part of making your laboratory eco-friendly because it reduces the carbon footprint.
You can ensure that your freezers will function at their peak levels only when you maintain them properly. Freezers that are not appropriately maintained consume more electricity to run efficiently.
Here are some tips for effective freezer maintenance:
- Purchase only energy-efficient freezers. Assess the energy consumption before you invest in a freezer.
- Do not place your freezer or in direct sunlight. It will increase its electricity consumption.
- Do not keep the door of your freezer open for long periods. It increases electricity consumption.
- Defrost the freezer on a necessary schedule. It is a good practice to attach the plan to the wall and ensure that your staff defrosts the unit as per the schedule.
- Take out the unnecessary items from your freezer.
Besides, ensure that your staff understands the proper usage and maintenance of your freezer.
Reduce Laboratory Waste
Usually, laboratories produce vast quantities of waste. But the scientific processes of waste management are such that they make reducing carbon footprint in laboratories challenging.
Recycling is the standard process laboratories implement to reduce carbon footprint. But there are downsides to it. Often, recycling calls for many resources and, in many cases, increase the carbon footprint. So, it is a good idea to reduce the quantity of waste before recycling.
However, there are also other effective ways to get rid of laboratory waste. Try out the following methods:
- Have a meeting with your staff. Discuss how you can reduce waste and brainstorm a few ideas with your employees.
- Put signage of your eco-friendly laboratory practices, like when, how, and what to recycle.
- Look for laboratories in your nearby area that need some of your items that you do not require any more. Give such things to those laboratories.
- Place different recycling bins in the laboratory for various wastes. While you can place a bin in a room for waste paper, you can place another bin in a different room for waste aluminum cans and plastic water bottles.
- Avoid throwing away broken equipment. Instead, call a technician and ask him about repair options. If repairing is possible, ask him to repair the equipment.
- Avoid purchasing in bulk. Instead, purchase as per your requirement. It is a bad practice to buy chemicals and reagents in bulk to save money because you might not use all of them before the expiration date.
- Do not run dishwashers for laboratory glassware unless they get full. If you run them with half loads of beakers, it will result in excess water usage.
- Do not purchase fewer individually wrapped items in excess. However, things for sterile needs need to be individually wrapped. Purchase non-sterile items in bulk packaging.
- Ensure that you dispose of all hazardous waste properly. You cannot control the amount of chemical waste in your laboratory, but you can dispose of it in the right way.
Make Sustainable Purchases
You should not only consider the price as the sole criterion while making purchases. It will help if you purchase sustainable products. Do a bit of research and find out the best sustainable products in the market for your laboratory.
Here are a few tips on how you can make sustainable purchases for your laboratory:
- Purchase reusable glass pipettes and buffer concentrates for nonsterile applications. It can reduce wastage.
- Consider replacing your laboratory items made of traditional plastics. It is good to look for peer-reviewed studies comparing conventional plastic items vis-a-vis the newer environmentally friendly options.
- Consider purchasing items made of recycled plastics. Usually, you will find test tube racks and conical tubes made of recycled plastic.
- Think before purchasing hazardous materials—research newer and less toxic materials to result in less hazardous waste in your laboratory eventually.
- Buy reusable items as possible.
Reducing carbon footprint has become essential for all laboratories. We believe that the tips outlined in this article will help you immensely in making your laboratory eco-friendly.