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Procure labware that reduces the amount of single-use plastics


Segment    Family    Class




SDG Alignment

12. Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns

SDG Target


Target Description

By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

Level of Effort

Level of Effort Scale


1 -Quick Wins: solution involves adding criteria for the good or service being purchased (ex: certifications), minimal internal process changes.

2 -Long Term Adoption: solution requires some changes to internal processes and/or more capital investment (ex: digital transformation to reduce paper use).

3 – Disruptive Opportunities: requires significant investment and changes to internal processes (ex: retrofitting building)

Category Assessment

ETCH Procurement Process .png


• Identify baseline: Identify the major sources of plastic waste in your lab (e.g. pipette tips, nitrile gloves, petri dishes, etc.) and how much plastic is being disposed. Evaluate the type of resin used for each plastic based on the resin identification code and determine if products are being recycled, reused, returned to suppliers or disposed of
• Alternative Materials: Look for products that are more sustainable, for example labware made of durable plastic or glass which can be reused, or labware that uses components made of recycled materials
• Evaluate Product Lifecycles: Consider factors such as raw material extraction, the energy and water intensity of the manufacturing process, the useful life of the product, and how the product will be disposed at the end of its lifecycle (e.g. can be recycled through local programs, returned to suppliers, or will it need to be incarnated) to identify which products will have a lower overall environmental footprint

Opportunity Identification 

Business: Compliance with regulations and guidelines and potential for cost savings in cases of labware reusability
Sustainability: Reduces the amount of plastic waste

Strategy Build & Execution

• For labware that is used in larger volumes consider ordering in bulk to reduce emissions from shipping and transportation. Alternatively, if only small quantities are needed, consider ordering sample sizes to reduce waste
• Consider using durable, high-quality labware that can be sanitized and reused multiple times. If reuse is not feasible, consider selecting products made from PET, PETE, or HDPE which have lower resin numbers and are more easily recycled through local programs when properly cleaned.
• Commit to using products that have ACT labels and incorporate requirements into the RFP process and procurement platforms

Supplier Negotiation & Contract

• Collaborate with colleagues and other institutions to share information about sustainable equipment choices and collectively negotiate with suppliers for better deals.
• Seek suppliers who are actively working to reduce packaging waste and have implemented take-back or recycling program for packing and shipping materials
• Work with suppliers to determine if more sustainable labware alternatives exist. Examples include labware that has a lower volume of plastic or produced using less energy or water than the traditional manufacturing process

Supplier Performance & Management

• Encourage suppliers to submit their products to receive an ACT label which more clearly communicates a product’s sustainability
• Supplier Sustainability: Evaluate the sustainability practices of equipment suppliers, including their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Consider suppliers that have sustainability initiatives in place
• Maintain records of sustainable procurement decisions and regularly report on progress to encourage accountability and continuous improvement

Resource Links

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