NatPro Case Study
Irish Green Labs, 19 April 2022
NatPro Centre, Trinity College Dublin
Peter O’Connor, NatPro Green Lab Ambassador
Being a new research centre and incorporating a plan for Green Lab certification from the outset allowed us to focus on the key areas that were within our direct control. One of the areas we identified was procurement and as we progressed towards purchasing new equipment – green credentials such as energy efficiency, supply chain logistics, expected life cycle and serviceability became equally as important as cost and availability. We found the My Green Lab ACT Label scheme particularly useful in this regard, as it allowed us to evaluate these key parameters in a more transparent manner and we welcome the continued expansion of the scheme to include more manufacturers and suppliers.
At the other end of the spectrum, we recognised the importance of maintaining the existing equipment available to us and not simply replacing or discarding functional and serviceable instruments. We made use of an internal Trinity College website to repurpose old lab equipment we had no use for and upgraded / refurbished existing laboratory equipment.
Of the small changes we implemented, our biggest worry was that of excessive water usage. Our laboratory activities required a lot of single pass cooling and where possible we purchased or put in place recirculating chillers. For less critical operations (e.g. rotary evaporation), we manufactured our own chiller unit by using a cooler box, an aquarium pump and repurposing old ice packs.
When reviewing our progress to date and when discussing our experience of the My Green Lab certification process with other laboratory groups, the key advantage we found was that in NatPro we had full support at Director and PI level. This allowed us to dedicate the time and resources to implement changes / work practices across all areas identified by My Green Lab.
Dr Gaia Scalabrino, NatPro Executive Director
The NatPro Centre for Natural Products Research is based at The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. We focus on delivering innovative, functional solutions derived from nature in the areas of pharmaceuticals, functional food and cosmetics. We apply transdisciplinary science-led research, academic rigour, regulations and product development expertise to discover bioactives and support the sustainable development of natural products. The Centre collaborates with partners in the private and public sector to address unmet needs.
In line with our work, at NatPro we are keen to embed sustainability in our culture, aiming to reduce our impact on the environment in our practices and behaviour. NatPro was awarded Green Certification from My Green Lab and we are exciting to be part of Irish Green Labs to contribute to this positive national wave and collectively address such a critical, unmet need that spans from sustainability awareness to education and implementation.