The Importance of Laboratory Consumables in the Life Sciences Industry

Laboratory testing consumables are typically not amenable to substitution and laboratory consumables heavily rely on single-use plastics in their day-to-day operations. Laboratories are subject to rigid scientific and regulatory processes to ensure the accuracy and reliability of data as well as the safety and efficacy of testing protocols. High-quality laboratory consumables, reagents and validated standard processes are critical to research in the life sciences.

Substitution for such laboratory consumables in the life sciences requires performance verification before it can take place.

Historically, reusable glass pipets and culture dishes were commonplace in life science laboratories; however disposable plastics became regarded as more convenient and cost-effective. However, due to contamination, laboratory consumables are largely non-recyclable and there is no infrastructure in place to sustainably deal with disposed plastics.

What are Laboratory Consumables?
Laboratory consumables are defined as equipment used in the lab that does not have a limited use capacity. The equipment typically is limited in its number of uses before it is disposed of. Use may be single, as is the case for pipette tips, gloves, and filter paper, or multiple-use, for example syringes, cuvettes, and plates.

Examples of laboratory consumables include pipettes, falcon tubes, syringes, beakers, funnels, filter paper, pipette tips, test tubes, plates, cuvettes, etc.

The Importance of Laboratory Consumables in the Life Sciences Industry
The importance of laboratory consumables has been highlighted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, during which has seen an increased demand for testing materials amid disruption to manufacturing and distribution channels.

Since the pandemic, the life science industry has seen unprecedented demand for laboratory consumables related to COVID-19 laboratory work. Laboratory plastic consumables were being directed toward conducting RT-PCR tests (consumables such as plates and pipette tips) at an augmented rate of use with suppliers unable to keep pace with demand.

As a consequence of this disrupted supply chain, other areas of research have been adversely impacted. Namely, several lab processes were put on hold; this is particularly detrimental to laboratories conducting local surveillance projects for other viral diseases. This resulted in an inability to inform policy due to a lack of data. Alongside the paucity of laboratory consumables, other consequences included:

An inability to maintain clinical testing services.
Halted research.
Compromised scientific and regulatory processes for ensuring test reliability.

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