Five Ways Lean Lab can help you become a Greener Lab

Management teams are increasingly challenging their labs to reduce their environmental impact as companies become more cognizant of their responsibilities to the planet and the public. Meanwhile, within labs, there are plenty of scientists who are doing their bit to become greener in their personal lives and would appreciate opportunities to expand these efforts into their workspace. Within the pharma industry there are often regulatory barriers to changing processes and testing equipment or methods. This will add significant time and costs to some of the obvious green lab projects. For example, replacing long HPLC methods with new more efficient UPLC methods will require capital expenditure on equipment, time on researching, purchasing, and qualifying equipment and then developing and validating new methods prior to updating regulatory submissions. While these projects are worth pursuing, there are other improvements within labs which are often realized as part of a Lean Lab project which do not require equipment expenditure or regulatory changes.

During lean lab projects it is common to reduce the number of test runs being performed by optimizing the queuing system, scheduling and by planning to run at the levelled demand rate. This is particularly important for methods with a significant set up time (often HPLC type methods). By optimizing the number of samples on a test run and, as a result, reducing the number of test runs, it is not only possible for the lab to save time and effort but also to have a positive Green impact. Five obvious environmental impacts of fewer chromatography-based test runs are:

  1. Reduced solvent usage (and hence less solvent waste created)
  2. Reduced water usage through less running buffers and/or less glassware used and hence less washing
  3. Reduced consumables usage – standards, columns, vials etc.
  4. Lower levels of equipment utilization resulting in lower volume of equipment required and longer lifespans
  5. Less paperwork generated (within paper-based labs)

While improving the environmental impact of the lab might not be the initial goal of a Lean Lab project it can certainly be a beneficial outcome without extra effort or expenditure.

Our consultants can provide further information on the above and discuss any aspect of Real Lean Transformation, simply set-up a call today.