Developing the Sustainable Laboratory

Researchers: Elaine Jensen, Aberystwyth University; Paul Brennan, Cardiff University; Leanne Cullen-Unsworth, Cardiff University; Michael Harbottle, Cardiff University; Yingli Wang, Cardiff University.

Sustainable LabFocusing on the waste produced by laboratories, this project developed a cross-disciplinary team to suggest innovative solutions for improving laboratory sustainability.

The research team established that currently-used lab items can be recycled, and should be considered a valuable asset – high grade recyclable plastic and not just incineration material. The project also looked at the possibility of producing lab items from plant-based chemicals. This would have favourable environmental impacts

A survey of laboratory staff suggests that they are willing and interested in improving sustainability, despite the fact that lab attitudes and facilities are organised, generally, around a “throw it out” mentality rather than a recycling mentality. Drivers for recycling behaviour were investigated. Increased and altered facilities and sustainability training are required as well as high level leadership to facilitate change.

The project generated local recommendations for universities, as well as suggestions at a national level. A workshop was organised at Cardiff University to discuss the project and the future of laboratory sustainability.

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