New video documentary highlights people who work in labs are using 15 to 16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland
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New video documentary highlights people who work in labs are using 15 to 16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland.

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has unveiled a short video documentary ‘The time to green our labs is now’ as part of the Galway Green Labs initiative, which recently led to the CÚRAM lab being the first in Europe to be awarded Green Lab Certification.

The video documentary tells the story of the Galway Green Labs initiative, which was spearheaded by Dr Una Fitzgerald, a CÚRAM funded investigator and director of the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway.

Plastic waste, energy reduction, recycling, and water usage


Together with her ‘green team’ of CÚRAM researchers and staff, and with the support of the university registrar and deputy president, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, and the Community University Sustainability Partnership, she is working to transform practice across campus to address issues such as plastic waste, energy reduction, recycling, and water usage.

Dr Una Fitzgerald, NUI Galway, explains her motivation for establishing Galway Green Labs: “What has emerged is that people who work in labs are using 15 to 16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland.

“This practice is done more so out of convenience than out of necessity, so we’re trying to change mindsets to heighten our awareness of the cumulative negative impact on the environment of this way of working. All we’re asking lab scientists to do is question what they’re doing – to ask themselves, ‘Is there something I can do to lessen the environmental impact of my work in the lab”. And to talk to others, and spread the message of the urgent need for change’.”

University registrar and deputy president, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, is supporting the initiative and said: “For many years NUI Galway has been improving its performance in terms of energy efficient buildings, waste management, water use and more.

‘Model Learn – Live – Lead’


“Recently we’ve brought together a Community and University Sustainability Programme that is looking at practices and spreading what we do out into the entire community and crucially bringing it into educational practices under the model Learn – Live – Lead. The Galway Green Labs initiative is a major part of this work.”

Certification was awarded this November by My Green Lab, a non-profit organisation that aims to fundamentally and permanently improve the sustainability of scientific research by unifying and leading scientists, vendors, designers, energy providers, and others in a common drive toward a world in which all research reflects the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility.

Run for scientists, by scientists, it leverages its credibility and track record to develop standards, oversee their implementation, and inspire the many behavioural changes that are needed throughout the scientific community.

Though My Green Lab focuses solely on laboratory environments, it believes its activities will excite similar changes across other industries, and in the private lives of the millions of people who spend their time in labs.

‘Three times larger than construction industry’


Alison Paradise, CEO of My Green Lab, said: “Labs comprise an industry that is three times larger than the construction industry and half the size of the automotive industry.

“Labs, for all their good intentions, are estimated to discard over more than 5.5 million metric tonnes of plastic each year, which is enough to cover an area 23 times the size of Galway ankle-deep.

“They also consume 5-10 times more energy and water than office spaces. If every lab in Ireland were to turn off just one piece of equipment overnight for a year, it would be the equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions associated with driving 2.8 million kilometres.”

Click here to view the Galway Green Labs short video documentary: https://vimeo.com/375847945

https://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/a1-23-1024x558.jpghttps://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/a1-23-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanNewsCÚRAM,NUI Galway,renewables
New video documentary highlights people who work in labs are using 15 to 16 times more plastic than the average person in Ireland. CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has unveiled a short video documentary ‘The time to green our labs is now’ as...