The Future of Lab Consumables
Jan Bebermeier, Eppendorf SE
Plastic-based lab consumables are mandatory for many steps in the lab: Purity, sterility, ease-of-use, the expectations of the user are high. But plastic provides a severe heritage: large quantities of lab waste are generated, most of them defined as bio- or chemical hazard, and legal restrictions specify waste management by thermal incineration.
In view of these high laboratory waste volumes, the demand for more sustainable consumables is growing on the user side as well as on the supplier side.The way for change is diverse: It starts with simple ways to reduce plastic waste and continues with re-use of different types of plastics, development of more sustainable materials, new production processes, and last but not least, continuous and increased education of users on what they can do to become more sustainable in the lab.
These changes need to go hand-in-hand between user and manufacturer, as this journey can only be mastered together: We need a combination of product attributes such as reliable stability, purity, availability and affordability with significant improvement in sustainability.
Eppendorf is assessing the current status and reviewing the best options for different categories of laboratory consumables in order to make them a reality. We want to give some insights on the challenges on the manufacturer side and what is our vision for the laboratory consumables of the future.
- Identify the multi-dimensional challenges of lab plastics: the requirements and needs for lab consumables in terms of purity/ sterility, mechanical and chemical stability, availability;
- Understand the challenge of producing laboratory consumable products to meet the highest standards, ensure availability of pure raw materials, and consider structural limitations of materials and production processes;
- See the solutions for short-term improvements which can be based on reduction and reuse of plastic consumables, smart experimental design and optimization as well as on improved local education. Learn more about future options in respect to new materials and different methods of recycling; and
- Join the team of users and manufacturers and understand the need of a continous exchange between users and manufacturers to find your best solutions for future lab consumables. This journey is based on your needs for reproducible results and manufactuerers' challenges changing from existing material to future material.
Jan Bebermeier is a molecular biologist by training and received his PhD based on gene expression studies. Since 2005, he has worked at Eppendorf in different positions and is responsible for different product groups, including the ULT freezers. For the last three years, he has established the topic of product sustainability in the company.
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