Why the Circular Economy is Unsustainable for Labs and How Leaders in Life Sciences Are Taking Action

Labs, we have a plastics problem. And it’s time to take action. But what type of action is best?


A study at the University of Exeter in the UK estimated that the global life science industry generated 5.5 million tons of plastic waste in 2014, accounting for 2% of the world’s plastic waste. Plastics have undoubtedly changed the industry of healthcare and research by providing a cheap and sterile environment for virtually everything in a hospital or lab, but this approach is now dated, and further actions must be implemented. 


Among the false solutions is burning plastic waste for energy, generally labeled as “waste-to-energy” or “circular economy.” Many recycling schemes ultimately end up in this false solutions category. As we evaluate options for revolutionizing sustainability in the medical and research field, we need to acknowledge and remediate this unsustainable practice of disposing and burning plastics after one-time use. 


In a recent report from the Center for International Environmental Law, among the top three high impact interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle is to stop the production and use of single-use disposable plastic products. Another more practical option is incorporating reuse to extend the usefulness of plastic items. 


At Grenova, we advocate for reusing plastics as part of practicing responsible science. Keeping the planet and our fellow citizens heathy, after all, is an inherit mission of healthcare and research. If the medical industry pushes for industry-wide responsible plastic use, we can set precedent in how the world mitigates single plastic use.

Driven by this unwavering mission, Grenova is currently partnering with laboratories around the world to make the life sciences industry as sustainable, resilient, and cost-effective as possible. It’s our privilege to help other leaders in life sciences to leverage green technology that empowers their labs to wash and reuse plastic consumables without impacting accuracy of results, equipment, or operations. We stand behind the fact that a plastic pipette tip that has been washed using Grenova technology performs just as well – or better – than a brand new plastic pipette tip. In fact, the NIH, NCI and CDC have all validated the use of pipette tips that have been washed and reused without jeopardizing equipment or precision of results.


Today, the largest labs in the world rely upon pipette tips that have been washed and reused multiple times without impacting accuracy of liquid handling systems, advanced automations, or manual pipetting. Many laboratories now realize that it is critical that they make it a priority to reduce their plastic waste by reusing their most important plastic consumables. Grenova is actively partnering with labs and research centers committed to becoming sustainable by washing and reusing plastic consumables. As a result, labs using Grenova technology have reduced their pipette tip consumable biohazard waste by 90% while cutting costs. 


For more information about making your lab sustainable, visit grenovasolutions.com.

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