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Sustainable Science

Science is at the heart of the ICR. Scientific research has historically had a large carbon and waste footprint – laboratories by their very nature can use a lot of energy and water and produce significant amounts of waste.

Our sustainability action plan includes actions around:

  • Undertaking research into the environmental impact of laboratory processes
  • Reducing over-ordering of laboratory consumables
  • Increasing usage of in house-produced laboratory media instead of buying in
  • Buying greener alternatives for laboratory equipment and consumables and engaging with our supply chain in doing so
  • Building capability within our research divisions for our scientists and researchers to understand sustainability and labs
  • Reducing quantity of laboratory wastes and their sustainable management – including specifically reducing the quantity of waste going for high-temperature incineration.
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Laboratory practices

Together with our scientists, we are working hard to get all of our labs signed up with laboratory sustainability certification schemes, including the UK-based higher education Laboratories Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) and the international science sector initiative MyGreenLab.

These programmes will support lab teams to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and waste in line with our net zero and other sustainability objectives.

We will investigate the energy consumption and carbon footprint from different types of laboratory equipment and look at ways we can reduce their impact. For example, we have identified significant energy and carbon saving opportunities from the way we maintain and operate ultra-low temperature freezers.

In terms of lab waste, we are looking to reduce the waste we generate and to segregate waste more effectively, in order to recycle more and incinerate less. We want to reduce the quantity of non-hazardous, non-clinical waste entering the hazardous/clinical waste stream through better signage and consistent visual identity, which will be updated annually.

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We are collaborating with other universities, pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and hospitals – including our neighbour, the Royal Marsden NHS Trust – to share knowledge on best practice for sustainable laboratory practices and research science.

We will make sure our researchers have the necessary knowledge and tools to make more sustainable choices in labs by providing sustainable procurement guidance for laboratory equipment, such as recyclable or reusable laboratory consumables.

We also have supporting training from MyGreenLab and our Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) accredited Sustainability training.