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UKMEDLAB 2022 – How can the laboratory profession contribute to Net Zero?

By November 11, 2022November 18th, 2022No Comments

At BIVDA we are committed to the sustainability agenda and believe that collaboration and alignment across all stakeholders is the way that both the NHS and companies can reach their sustainable and environmental objectives.

NET ZERO is the balance of the amount of carbon emissions (which is the carbon footprint) produced and the amount absorbed equals zero. This is done by a combination of reducing emissions and off-setting using a carbon sink. A carbon sink can be a natural or artificial reservoir that absorbs carbon. For example, the 7 natural carbon sinks are Grasslands, Agricultural Lands, Northern boreal forests, Tropical Rainforests, Peat Bogs, Freshwater lakes and wetlands, Coastal ecosystems such as seagrass beds, kelp forests, salt marshes, swamps and Coral reefs. The main artificial sinks are landfills and carbon capture and storage processes.

Net Zero and Carbon Neutral are not the same. Carbon neutral refers to a policy of not increasing carbon emissions and of achieving carbon reduction through offsets. While net zero carbon means making changes to reduce carbon emissions to the lowest amount – and offsetting as a last resort.

Achieving strategic alignment requires labs to have a high-Level understanding of Net Zero and Social Value and understand how climate change may affect the laboratory, the impact on patients, possible opportunities within IVD and the nature of leadership required, with each team owning relevant aspects of the strategy and goals for their part of the laboratory. A specific internal project lead should be appointed who will co-ordinate and liaise with key functions within the laboratory and will initially oversee the practical development and implementation of the strategy by understanding emissions, specific requirements of the location, the Scope 1,2, and 3 requirements in accordance with the NHS Evergreen framework, and organisational cultural change: Introduction of new business processes that will be required.

Labs should consider that some areas that cannot be improved in the short term, they should look at activities and future activities separately to see what can be changed now, what can be changed in the future, what engagement with users is required and with suppliers by identifying barriers and quick wins. Not every idea with work for everyone.

To conclude the presentation, a set of do’s and don’ts was set out by Helen for labs to engage and utilise supplier expertise, so that collaboration and understanding can be achieved and all parties in the supply chain can achieve their Net Zero targets.

  • Its not a competition – Collaborate with Suppliers and End Users to meet each other’s objectives.
  • Tools and Best Practice – use best practice from other Contracting bodies E.g. Councils.
  • Plan/ Plan/ Plan – include sustainability and Net Zero in your work practices and tech specs – don’t just have arbitrary inclusions at tender stage so you can really affect change.
  • Review the innovations themselves – market analysis – it is not anti-competitive or illegal at any point – even if in contract providing rules and conflicts are managed.
  • Change if there is something better. It drives innovation.
  • Be prepared to change direction if something doesn’t work.
  • Don’t Penalise/ Do Encourage.
  • Not everything is suitable for everyone.
  • Look at long term changes to implement in more detail than short term – limited opportunities E.g. facilities and products.
Natalie Creaney