Sustainability in Life Sciences: 4 Ways to Make it Happen

by Guest Writer

This article was guest written by Geraldine Mills.

Sustainability has been a prevalent topic these days. Probably because the planet Earth is estimated to run out of resources in about 60 years. This is due to the ever-increasing population and our consumer behavior.

In addition, the 2020 World Economic Forum highlighted the pronounced effects of climate change:

  • The past half-decade has been the hottest on record
  • Extreme weather conditions like superstorms and drought

This explains why it is imperative to take action. And luckily, the opportunity to mitigate the effects of climate change is still open. So much so that even the Life Science sector can do its part in saving the environment.

From production to disposal, it is undeniable that biotech and pharmaceutical companies can lower their carbon footprint. In this post, we will share four ways you can make sustainability happen in the Life Science industry.

Practice carbon offsetting

In a nutshell, carbon offsetting is the process of funding organizations and technologies that helps reduce carbon emissions. This is to compensate for the emissions that your research lab or company is making.

A great example of carbon offsetting is funding reforestation projects.

Another is to invest in sustainable distribution companies like eco-friendly packaging manufacturers. Better yet, you can partner with them.

Sure, you cannot store cough syrup in a bamboo bottle. But you can opt for recyclable carton packaging.

Implement waste management techniques

According to Michelle Dipp, the co-founder and managing partner of Biospring Partners, “The goals of waste management is to reduce our waste and find ways to eradicate them completely.”

Luckily, there are a handful of waste management techniques that you can implement in a Life Science lab.

Reducing Wasteful Ordering

The first step in managing waste in the lab is to reduce the materials you have to purchase and use. What you can do is develop a centralized spreadsheet or inventory system.

Such a system allows you to identify what items you have and their quantity. That way, you would know when the research lab is running low on stocks.

It also enables you to practice bulk ordering, helping you save in shipping cost. Another benefit of bulk orders is that you reduce your carbon footprint since you only need to ship multiple products once.

Substituting Hazardous Substances

Another way to manage waste in the Life Science sector is to substitute hazardous materials with something safer. Doing so also reduces the risk of getting exposed to toxic materials.

To make that happen, here are some steps that you need to take:

  1. Identify hazards and assess the risks involved.
  2. Carefully identify a plethora of alternatives.
  3. Compare and contrast results from using various options.
  4. Consider how an option can impact your process.
  5. Decide whether to introduce the alternative or not.

Share and Redistribute Resources

If you notice that the lab disposes of too many expired samples, consider sharing and redistributing resources.

It is as simple as setting a campus-wide initiative, wherein you can share unused chemicals and unexpired samples to nearby universities and other research labs.

Move to digital data management

These days, storing and sharing documents is easier ‒ thanks to cloud storage and digital data management.

Digital data management enables a Life Science company to record and store data about their products. It also allows data-sharing with stakeholders without the need to print hard copies. Hence, you are reducing your company’s carbon footprint.

All you need is to find a robust and secured digital data management technology that suits your company’s requirements.

Introduce renewable energy sources

In case you are unaware, solar energy is used in more ways than one. It can provide electricity in your home and power your devices. Hence, you can use it to power your lab as well.

It can be as simple as providing electricity in the office. If you have an expansive lab, you can use solar-powered shuttle services for your employees. That way, they can travel from one lab to another with ease.

At the moment, here are some renewable energy sources that you can consider:

  • Solar energy. Refers to converting the sun’s rays into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells.
  • Biomass heating. It is a flexible power source from biofuels and biogas from landfills. Biomass energy can power vehicles and heat buildings.
  • Geothermal energy. Refers to using the planet’s internal heat to power deep wells and generate electricity. It is just a matter of managing its inherent sulfur odor.
  • Wind turbines. It is harnessing the power of the wind to generate electricity.
  • Hydropower. Refers to using river currents and water flow for a clean energy source.

The Future of the Life Sciences Industry

Climate concern is everywhere, including the Life Science industry. Luckily, this sector is rife with opportunities to implement sustainable practices.

From inception and production to distribution and disposal, we can do things to help save the environment. And doing so can expand the difference that the Life Science sector can make to the community.

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