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Lab Innovations 2019 - Sustainability in the Lab

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Lab Innovations, a UK-based trade show dedicated to the laboratory industry, will showcase at Birmingham’s NEC, 30 & 31 October, exploring multiple options to help visitors future-proof their laboratories - from innovative products, to waste reduction and sustainability. This focus is reflected in many of Lab Innovations’ key areas, including the Sustainable Laboratory zone, the Royal Society of Chemistry, Insights & Innovation and Live Lab theatres, as well as on the stands of numerous scientific exhibitors.

Sustainable laboratories

Research lab buildings can account for up to 70% of some universities’ carbon emissions, and consume 10 times more energy and at least four times more water [per unit area] than office spaces.

Increased in size for Lab Innovations 2019, the Sustainable Laboratory zone will show visitors how even small improvements in technology, procurement and best practice can reduce running costs, making funding go further. “Sustainability is the future for how we select, buy and use our lab equipment”, said Andy Evans of Green Light Laboratories. “We are excited to showcase how sustainability is saving labs thousands of pounds and safeguarding UK science, and I will be highlighting the latest innovations in lab products, as well as how lab practices and procurement can become more sustainable.”

Attendees will see how Green Light Laboratories has worked with leading UK universities and institutions, helping them to increase their use of ‘green’ equipment and processes and achieve sustainable results. Real-life case studies on core lab equipment including comparisons of ‘lab freezer performance’, ‘media sterilization technology’ and ‘chiller versus water’ will all be available in the zone. Relevant equipment can also be seen on the show floor from many suppliers, including SLS, Julabo, GPE Scientific, Shimadzu, PerkinElmer, Analytix, IKA and Cole-Parmer.

Talking sustainability & recycling

Further insight into green procurement, and improving lab sustainability and efficiency through green initiatives, will also be highlighted in the show’s Live Lab theatre. For example, the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is a new tool developed by UCL with input from 16 other research institutions around the UK and Ireland to help quantify savings and benchmark comparable results within the lab.

In the Royal Society of Chemistry theatre, celebrations continue for the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) and speakers will focus on the chemical elements that make up this iconic and fundamental scientific tool. Here visitors can learn about efficient recycling of precious elements, and discover more sustainable alternatives to some of the elements commonly used in the lab.

The two days of expert talks include ‘Mining the Scrapheap’ by professor Jason Love, University of Edinburgh, which will cover the chemical techniques that underpin the recycling of gold and rare-earth elements. As professor Love explains: “To adopt a circular economy and the environmental and societal benefits it brings, we need to have the ability to recycle end-of-use products. These include electronic devices such as smartphones that contain metals seen as critical resources, but which are not being recycled to their full extent at the moment.”

Continuing the sustainability and recycling theme, Sarah Wilson, Technical Manager at Sellafield, will provide a brief overview of 70 years of nuclear reprocessing and also look to the future, including the challenges of reprocessing and how waste can be reused. Among the many other talks, expert speakers will look at the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, rare earth metals and magnets.

Lab future-proofing

The Perkin Elmer-sponsored Insights & Innovation theatre will again be curated by Laboratory News, providing insight into the latest discoveries and discussing best practices and day-to-day challenges for lab management, particularly around digitization and sustainability. Industry professionals will explore the uses of AI in research, virtual reality in laboratories, sustainable equipment and supporting technical staff, of which there is a national shortage.