Green Labs Community
Welcome to the Green Labs Community!
A new bottom-up approach to sustainability in UCC. Run for and by the lab community it serves. The aim of this page is to help provide information on how to make your lab more sustainable. Contact the Green Lab Community here @ email@example.com to get your lab signed up and involved. Small changes can make a big difference when we all work together!
Why are we implementing a green labs programme?
We are all aware of the impending challenge of the climate crisis that is facing our world currently. The clock is ticking, and we now more than ever need to make substantial changes if we are going to attempt to keep global heating to within 1.5 degrees agreed by the Paris Climate Agreement. In order to achieve this, we will have to evaluate all aspects of our lives and get people from all industries involved, including scientific research. Laboratories are some of the most resource-intensive spaces of any industry and they create a lot of waste. But this doesn’t have to be the case. By introducing new ideas and following already existing guidelines there are ways to reduce the impact of research on the environment. Even small changes can make a big impact in spaces where sustainability hasn’t been the priority.
Globally labs consume approximately ten times more energy than the same sized office equivalent, four times more water than offices and annually labs produce 5.5 tons of plastic waste, this equates to nearly 2% of the global plastic production. While the average Irish person produces 61kg of plastic annually, the average bench scientist produces over 1000kg of plastic waste each year. This means that even diverting just 2% of the total lab plastic from landfill could save 100 million tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere annually. This coupled with the fact that only 9% of the 8.2 billion tonnes of plastic that has been produced, has been recycled to date, highlights the urgent need to reduce the carbon footprint of labs.
As the first university in the world to receive the Green Flag from the Foundation for Environmental Education, UCC is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. The laboratories play an important role in the university, but are significantly more resource intensive than other areas, as a result it is important to focus on specific ways to reduce their impact.
In order to make labs more sustainable, the lab community in UCC has chosen to follow the LEAF programme. Find out more in the LEAF section.