When sourcing laboratory supplies and services, lab owners, managers, and users may not be aware of the waste, toxins, and even supply chain issues that can increase a lab's environmental footprint. Researchers who are working to better the planet and the people on it are not likely to realize the environmental and human rights implications of the products and services they purchase.
For example, most research facilities in the United States currently procure nitrile gloves that were created using forced labor under unethical conditions in Malaysia's migrant glove industry. Three out of every five pairs of gloves used globally come from this market, and the United States is their primary customer.
Recognizing the need for a comprehensive resource to navigate these issues, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), in partnership with a variety of organizations, developed Sustainable Procurement Guidance: Laboratory Supplies and Services as a resource for procurement professionals, laboratory managers, sustainability professionals, research and development teams, and suppliers and manufacturers. The guide provides a systems-level approach to purchasing more sustainable laboratory supplies and services through:
- Identification and education on the environmental, social, and economic sustainability impacts and opportunities surrounding the procurement of research laboratory supplies—in particular, laboratory equipment, consumables, and chemicals/reagents.
- Prioritized strategies that address these impacts from both a procurement systems-level and product/service-level perspective.
- Project ideas, case studies, and other supporting resources to effectively and efficiently execute these strategies.
This resource provides guidance to help laboratories navigate sustainable procurement issues, from nitrile gloves created under ethical conditions to hazardous waste disposal. Additionally, earlier this year in March 2022, SPLC hosted a webinar about the environmental and social impacts of purchasing laboratory supplies such as equipment, consumables, and chemicals. Attendees learned how to leverage the SPLC's new procurement guidance to address these impacts from both a systems- and product-level perspective. The webinar recording is now accessible to SPLC members.
To learn more, purchase Sustainable Procurement Guidance: Laboratory Supplies and Services or SPLC members can log into their account for free access.
Get Recognized for Sustainable Programs, Projects, and People
If you are taking a proactive approach to laboratory procurement, design, or other efforts, your organization can be recognized by the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL). I2SL has revamped its awards program to recognize people, projects, and programs that are at the forefront of advancing laboratory sustainability.
The I2SL Lab Sustainability Awards Program is accepting applications in three categories:
- Phil Wirdzek Leadership Award: Nominate an individual or team that is a champion of I2SL's goals and mission. Share how they've taken action to improve sustainability, efficiency, and safety in labs and have encouraged others to do the same.
- Sustainable Laboratory Award for Buildings or Projects: Awards in this category will recognize lab buildings or projects in three different classifications: new construction, renovation/retrofit, and adaptive reuse. Applicants should identify the features that improved sustainability, including decarbonization, energy efficiency, resiliency, waste reduction, social justice, and more.
- Lab Sustainability Award for Programs or Initiatives: These awards will acknowledge laboratory procurement programs or other initiatives that enhance sustainable lab operations, lab management practices that help reduce waste, and efforts to work with suppliers to eliminate waste.
Award submissions are due May 18. Winners will be recognized October 18 during the 2022 I2SL Annual Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
Summit on Sustainability
I2SL's partner, My Green Lab is hosting their virtual 2022 Summit: Community and Collaboration on May 26, which will cover how to start an engaging Green Labs program and techniques to reduce waste, energy, water, and chemical use, as well as breakthrough technologies that are changing the future of sustainable science. Register today to join the conversation between industry, academia, manufacturing, policy, and funding bodies in their strive towards a permanent systemic transformation of the industry.