Low-carbon labware: Setting the standard for product transparency and sustainability
As many scientists will understand, seeking out the best plastic consumables for your research is already a challenge. One must ensure high resistance to chemicals, the right purity to avoid contamination, and precise product design and function, among other considerations. This is why environmental factors like a product’s carbon footprint and recyclability were often an afterthought, especially as the necessary depth of environmental information was typically difficult to find. But biomedical and research organizations both large and small are beginning to set annual targets to achieve sustainability goals with the aim of reducing their environmental impact. This rapid shift in mentality towards better labware is being supported by new systems that quantify carbon use in lab products and manufacturing.
Leading by example
Back in September 2021, SelectScience interviewed Labcon’s Lead Scientist Scott Weitze to hear more about the California-based company’s long-standing commitment to reducing the carbon intensity and environmental impact of its labware and manufacturing operations, which resulted in an 89% reduction in greenhouse gases produced per case of product.
Weitze highlighted some of the industry-leading steps Labcon has taken over the past 20 years to reduce its energy consumption, limit waste output, and improve product designs. This included locating all operations – including product design, manufacturing, packaging, and sterilization – to the same location in Northern California, the construction of a 870 kilowatt solar facility, improved packaging, the adoption of a circular waste management plan, and upgrading to energy efficient automation systems. To quantify these improvements, Labcon has been registering numerous products with the ACT Environmental Impact Factor label from My Green Lab.
The ACT (Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency) label aims to take a holistic look at what makes a lab product sustainable, scoring various aspects of design and manufacturing to give an overall Environmental Impact Factor (EIF). At the time of the first interview, Labcon had already certified many of its products with the ACT label, with its ZAP™ Aerosol Filter Pipet Tip achieving the best score of all the consumables enrolled in the program at the time. Since then, it has built on the first round of certifications with newly certified labware. We reached out to Scott Weitze and Frédéric Laboroi, Regional Manager for Labcon, to hear how their ACT-certified product offerings have evolved and expanded.