Research labs produce 2% of all the one-way plastics world-wide (Urbina, Nature, 2015). Based on their own analysis and categorization of plastic waste in the lab, Climate@MaxPerutzLab has carried out a pilot project focused on reducing the amount of plastic entering the lab while increasing the percentage that can be recycled. In cooperation with Green Labs Austria and other partners, the Climate@MaxPerutzlabs team is currently looking into solutions to recycle polypropylene (PP), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polystyrene (PS).
Climate@MaxPerutzLabs used the ClimCalc tool to analyze CO2 emissions of the institute. This analysis has determined business travel, electricity, and heating/cooling as the three major contributors. The results will be used as the basis for future activities, in addition to collecting more data on the emissions associated with equipment and consumables in order to strategically reduce it.
The ClimCalc tool was developed by experts from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna and the Technical University of Graz as part of the Sustainable Universities Austria initiative.
While biological samples need to be stored at low temperature for their preservation, studies have shown that -70°C is sufficient for most samples. Increasing the freezer temperature from -80°C to -70°C can save 35% of the energy without detectable effects on sample stability. As part of the Freezer Challenge, the Climate@MaxPerutzLabs team continues to encourage research groups at the Perutz to save even more energy by managing freezer space and by de-icing or defrosting them regularly.
Cycling to work can play an important part in decreasing the CO2 footprint of an organization. With currently about 25% of employees using bikes for their daily commute to the lab (data from 2019 internal survey), the goal of Climate@MaxPerutzLabs is to motivate even more employees by organizing convenient on-site bike repair and inspection at the Vienna BioCenter.