Outstanding Labs Win Certification for Environmental Sustainability

by | Mar 20, 2023 | Environmental Sustainability (ES) | 0 comments

Article by Sam Hurley, Social Responsibility and Public Engagement Intern.

LEAF champions Isobel Taylor-Hearn (left) and Alis Hales (right), secured a gold LEAF certification for the A3040 Lab

Despite scientists comprising only 0.1% of the world’s population, our contribution to waste is more significant than expected. For example, life scientists alone contribute to 2% (5.5 million tons) of global plastic waste each year. Laboratories also consume 3 to 10 times more energy and 4 times more water than equivalent office spaces.

Therefore, as a collective, it is important that we work towards reducing our energy, water and consumables use  through better management and sharing of materials and resources, and by changing mentalities.

LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) is a sector wide initiative setup to achieve this, aiming to reduce lab waste and improve lab environmental sustainability and efficiency. LEAF outlines criteria at three levels (bronze, silver, gold) that help laboratories progressively meet these goals, and is applicable to wet labs, teaching spaces and IT labs.

Following an online induction or a live training session, LEAF champions join the FBMH sustainable lab network support group and work to set processes, training and guidance in their lab to meet the criteria for a level. The LEAF application is completed via an online platform offering further resources and calculators for the higher levels. Following submission, the lab is audited by two certified FBMH LEAF auditors. This process is friendly and an opportunity for exchanging tips and discussing barriers/actions for the next level. If all the level criteria are met, the lab is awarded a certificate to put on their door.

Gold is the highest criteria, which all labs should aim towards to limit their environmental impact. For example, to win a gold LEAF certification, a lab might have to demonstrate reuse of materials, reduction in overall consumption and improvement in recycling compliance and rate.

As a result of their implementation of environmentally sustainable and efficient laboratory practice, two labs, the A3040 Lab in Michael Smith and the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub in the Henry Royce Institute, have received gold LEAF certificates after their audit in February.

LEAF champion Christina Picken (right) and team secured a gold LEAF certification for the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub

Congratulations to LEAF champions Isobel-Taylor Hearn and Alis Hales (A3040 Lab) and Christina Picken (Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub), for securing the certification with their labs.

These labs are a shining example of how environmental sustainability can be achieved in the faculty and it is important other lab spaces follow suit to reduce our collective environmental impact.

Find out more about LEAF: LEAF (The University of Manchester).

Nominate a LEAF champion.

To find out more about ES in FBMH: visit the faculties webpage on Environmental Sustainability, explore our StaffNet page on Sustainability, read the latest news on Sustainability in the School of Health Sciences, or contact srbmh@manchester.ac.uk to sign up to our ES good newsletter.