Good practices to reduce the ecological footprint in labs

Together with researchers, we look for ways to reduce disposable plastics, reduce volumes and consume less reagents and energy during lab work. At the site My Green Lab can you find a lot of interesting things about water, energy, waste and green chemistry!

Generic analyses with reduced environmental impact

  • Use less hazardous chemicals. Find a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to a hazardous substance using the Green Alternatives Wizard.

  • PCR analysis

  • Heating differently: choose the most sustainable heat source. Bunsen burners use gas to open fire. It is modular and works faster, but is unsafe and you are working with a fossil fuel. An oil bath is also no longer preferable. It allows better temperature control, but can cause spills. So opt for safer and more sustainable electric heat sources, such as electric Bunsen burners, heating blocks, ovens or dryers. The UGent provides green electricity. 

  • Scale reduction: carry out the test on a smaller scale. This way, fewer lab products and energy are needed and you produce less waste. With snap cap vials, filter cartridges, ... this is now quite possible. 

Reduce energy consumption

Sustainable purchase and material management and reducing waste

Unused lab products

  • Unused lab products are regularly presented as waste. Avoid this by always weighing up thoroughly whether a purchase of a product is necessary or, in case of a wrong purchase, try to pass the product on to another research group that can use it. The cost of disposing and processing unused lab products is passed on to the research group. 

Packaging waste

  • Isomo chips when supplied by ChemLab: UGent concluded a framework contract with ChemLab for the purchase of chemicals. It was agreed that isomo chips, needed to secure hazardous substances during transport, can be collected in a large bag (or box). When this is full, this can be reported to ChemLab's internal sales department, which will prepare a return slip for this purpose and inform you when the bag will be collected.
  • Cooling elements: Block-shaped cooling elements can be offered to the thrift shop on a limited basis. (Contact for this.) Bags containing cooling fluid can possibly be used for medical applications. If recycling is not possible, the non-hazardous coolant can be poured down the sink and the empty bags can be collected with the 'plastics'.
  • Medical waste recipients: Medical waste recipients now consist of recycled material.

Disposable material 

  • Recycling of Nitrile disposable gloves: Nitrile disposable gloves that until recently you threw in the residual waste can now be collected separately and recycled through the RightCycle program! Slight chemical contamination is allowed, but biological contamination is not. This can be remedied in certain cases by autoclaving the gloves first.

Sharing of equipment and lab material

  • A Core Facility often brings together highly specialised and necessary scientific expertise, services and research infrastructure, allowing it to be shared by all researchers within the Core Facility and/or other users inside and outside UGent.
    In addition to discarded office furniture, and textbooks and materials, UGent Deelt now also has a module to easily give away, sell and buy devices and lab equipment.

Check-out when researchers leave UGent

  • Organise a good check-out: organise stock that has to be kept, clear out fridges and freezers, .... Here is a checklist that can be used for this purpose.

Student practica with less environmental impact

Group work is often needed as a cost-saving measure for large groups (less space and staff needed). This can involve working with the 'captain system': 1 trial is done by 4 students, with a different student being the main supervisor each time.

Interessanting links