Our modern way of life depends on plastic for almost any activity we can think of. Plastic is an amazing invention, cheap, extremely versatile, non-toxic and we thought it easy to get rid of… well, the last property we now all know turned out not to be true. It’s also likely that some uses of plastic introduce chemicals to the living sphere that are unhealthy for both humans and other living organisms. Working in healthcare makes plastic a necessary consumable that we wouldn’t be able to substitute for.
At Invivo we are acutely aware of our dependency on plastic for our daily lab activities but also in the packaging of our therapeutics (even though we have chosen glass bottles and metal lids, we are not able to eliminate plastic from the supply chain). We are working in different ways to support a bigger shift to a more sustainable use of plastic.
How we are taking action as a company
In 2019 we partnered with a local action group, ‘Stroud District Action on Plastic’, that helps the local community to reduce single-use plastic. As a small business, our impact is limited (very limited) on a global issue like this, but we do feel we can amplify our impact by joining up with other local businesses, community groups and local authorities. We are therefore extra proud on behalf of ‘Action on Plastic’ when they received the ‘Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’ on June 2nd². On a little side note, Claudi Williams, who is the founder of ‘action on plastic’, works for a Nailsworth-based B corp, Beeswax Wrap.
How we are taking action in our lab
We are also trying our best in the lab. As mentioned above the task of reducing single-use plastic in the lab comes across as a much more challenging task. Since founding the lab we have measured the waste we produce and where it goes. Luckily we have been able to reduce the amount of plastic (and other waste) relative to our productivity, but we would like to do more and again we have looked to our local community and in this case, Science Creates, the incubator community where we are based at in Bristol. Earlier this year we instigated a sustainability working group that works across the many businesses that are part of the two Science Creates incubators. This group has already suggested and implemented a number of changes that have improved our shared environmental performance in its first months – “the easy low-hanging fruits”.
We are now starting to talk more seriously about waste and therefore plastic. We have introduced some simple cleaning and re-use operations. However, we still end up with a serious amount of plastic and especially contaminated plastic that would normally be incinerated for health and safety reasons. Together with Danielle from Recyclelab, we are trying to find a better solution. At Recyclelab they work on a proof of concept of a more closed-loop flow for plastic use and reuse from the bioscience industry. We hope we will be able to move the majority of plastic waste to this recycled system approach in the next months.
If you feel you want to look at what you can do as an individual or organisation we can recommend the resources created by ‘Action on Plastic‘ and then work together with others, whether it’s your family members, neighbours, colleagues or follow organisations.