Sustainable Research: What is an Eco-Friendly Laboratory?

Medical technologist is working in the laboratory

The latest “state of the climate” report from Carbon Brief shows global surface temperatures in 2019 are on track as either the second or third warmest ever recorded since in the mid-1800s. Global warming is a major crisis the world is facing today. Its effects include the melting of sea ice, the rise of sea level, and intense heat waves, among others.

Excessive emission of greenhouse gases is a significant cause of global warming. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emitted by human activities is carbon dioxide (CO2). These emissions come from burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil.

Sustainability is one way to help reduce greenhouse gas emission and slow down the effects of global warming. Several science laboratories are now practicing sustainability, including those at Harvard University.

Sustainable Practices for Research Labs

Research laboratories use different resources and procedures. Despite that, you can still be sustainable through the right practices, from using energy-efficient lab ovens and other equipment to reducing your waste.

The Environmental Health Safety department of Princeton University recommends these sustainable practices:

  • Conservation

Laboratories consume a huge amount of energy. That’s why conservation should be a priority to laboratories. The university says freezers are the biggest users of electricity in labs. An ultra-low temperature freezer draws energy as much as an average household. Apart from freezers, you should also monitor your water consumption and fume hoods.

  • Waste reduction and resource management

You can achieve that by cutting the amount of material purchased and used. Your lab should also find alternative ways to dispose of your waste, such as redistribution, sharing, and recycling. Proper resource management prevents you from having unnecessary purchases. Have an inventory system to keep track of the resources you have on-site.

  • Manage hazardous waste

Effective disposal of hazardous materials is crucial to reducing the environmental impact of your lab. Be familiar with the regulations related to the proper management of hazardous waste to avoid any legal disputes.

The planet’s temperatures continue to rise rapidly. That’s why it’s essential to act immediately. Consider switching your practices, especially if you’re laboratory focuses on the industry sector.

Industrial Companies are a Major Contributor to CO2 Emissions

Pharmacist checking medicines

The EPA report shows the industry sector was responsible for 21 percent of global greenhouse emissions in 2010. Its emissions mainly involve burned fossil fuels for energy usage. A report by Climate Policy Watcher also suggests the beginning of the industrial age is when humans contributed to expanding the earth’s greenhouse effect, which now causes higher temperatures.

Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, was the first to suggest that burning fossil fuels increases the CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere in 1896. But it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s when the scientist’s theory was proven using improved instruments for measuring long-wave radiation.

Governments from around the world work together through the Paris Agreement to fight the climate crisis. Regardless of that, everyone should work together to control the temperature of the planet. Changing your processes in your lab can be challenging, but it is one that may contribute to a better environment in the future.

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