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Case Studies

Sustainable Practice in Pharmaceutical Teaching Labs

Martin Farley – Research Efficiency Manager, KCL           

            Since launching our Laboratory Sustainability awards in 2013, a variety of phenomenal teams have joined and employed a variety of laudable improvements. Of particular success has been the teaching laboratories within the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (IPS) of King’s College London, Franklin Wilkins Building. Not limited to the criteria requested by the awards programme, this technical team has gone above and beyond simply achieving sustainable practice within their spaces. They have actively engaged colleagues and students and encouraged them to embrace sustainability in the laboratory setting.

            Their achievements in sustainability started in part when their fume cupboards and spaces were to be renovated. Helena Wong, IPS teaching technician, assumed an integral role within the refurbishment team to ensure that the 19 new fume cupboards were both low-flow as well as variable air-volume (VAV), ensuring up to £9,000 in annual energy savings. The Pharmacy team, including Ayesha Naeem, Wendy Lewis and Daniel Asker, now not only ensure that fume cupboard sashes are kept low, but also educate students on why this action is important through posters and stickers designed by the team.

 

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            The technical team also practises Green Chemistry, including the reduced use of potentially harmful chemicals within their tutorials. The team uses expired chemicals and reagents after testing for viability. They also constantly try to reduce the volume of chemicals used to the minimum; examples include reducing the volume of mobile phase required. They also convert excess reagents to reagents of use such as 60% ethanol to 70% ethanol for decontamination.

These actions and more are why the IPS technical teaching team stands out amongst the many fantastic laboratory teams; their actions not only have resulted in direct savings for the department and estate but also increased sustainability in the labs. Their teaching practices and inductions extend beyond their facilities, and help prepare tomorrow’s researchers on how to conduct sustainable science wherever they may go. If you are interested in what they are up to, and the ongoing engagement with students, contact KCL Sustainability at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

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