Why go ‘Green’ in your laboratory?

Green labs guide coverThe clock is ticking, climate change is already underway and accelerating in impact, and our responsibility both as scientists, and citizens is to do all we can to prevent the global temperature rising by +1.5° Celsius.

Almost everything we do as humans impacts the Earth negatively, causing pollution, consuming resources and pushing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

If the Earth’s temperature increases by 1.5°C, the planet will experience even more extreme heat waves, fires, droughts and limited water availability, a 2019 NASA report on global climate change warns. Under the Paris Agreement, 189 countries have pledged to work together to keep Earth’s temperature below a rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6°F) — and ideally below 1.5°C. Clearly a global effort is needed to achieve this, and the Trinity Green Labs initiative is part of that global ongoing effort.

To date, there have been 8.2 billion tons of plastic produced worldwide, of which only 9% has ever been recycled. Our world’s reliance on single use plastic combined with today’s throwaway mentality is simply not a desirable or sustainable way to continue to live and work. 

Worldwide, labs consume ten times more energy than similarly sized offices, four times more water than offices, and produce 5.5 tons of plastic waste annually (an equivalent to 2% global plastic production).

An average Irish person produces 61kg of plastic annually compared to an average bench scientist who typically produces over 1000 kg of plastic waste each year.

These staggering statistics are a direct result of bad habits and poor management of resources. Diverting just 2% of lab plastic from landfill would save 100 million metric tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere annually.

Operating a sustainable lab will also reduce its operational costs in the long run, which benefits not only the environment but also the research budget. Therefore, it is in everybody’s interest to place sustainability at the forefront when operating a research lab.

In this guide, we offer simple, cheap (sometimes free!) ways to reduce costs in  your lab, as well as improving the efficiency of running the lab.