NUI Galway Curam My Green Lab

Curam awarded Europe’s first Green Lab certification

Initiative launched to introduce more sustainable practices into scientific research
Dr Una Fitzgerald, NUI Galway; Allison Paradise, My Green Lab with members of the Galway Green Labs team

4 December 2019

People who work in labs use 15-16 times more plastic than the average Irish person – an NUI Galway initiative is looking to change that.

Launched by Curam, the SFI research centre for medical devices, Galway Green Labs was developed to bring more sustainable practices into scientific research. Last month, Curam was awarded Green Lab status from My Green Lab, the first European lab to achieve this certification.

The initiative is the focus of a new documentary, The time to green our labs is now, which follows the Galway Green Labs team working to change lab practices for the better. Spearheaded by Dr Una Fitzgerald and her ‘green team’ of Curam researchers and staff, the Galway Green Labs initiative works to tackle issues such as plastic waste, energy reduction, recycling and water usage.

Dr Fitzgerald is a Curam funded investigator and director of the Galway neuroscience centre at NUI Galway.

Explaining her motivation for establishing the initiative, Dr Fitzgerald said; “What has emerged is that people who work in labs are using 15-16 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 mind-sets 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.”

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

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