As most scientists and lab experts would agree, laboratories demand substantial resources and have a considerable ecological footprint. To put it in perspective, labs generate an astonishing 12 billion pounds (5.5 billion kg) of plastic waste annually and consume ten times the energy and four times the water compared to typical office spaces. Amidst this impact, there is a pressing need for innovative solutions to mitigate the environmental consequences. The products used in laboratories greatly contribute to this environmental impact, emphasizing the urgency for sustainable alternatives in lab practices and materials.
In an effort to improve their environmental footprint, scientists and procurement specialists are actively seeking a solution to support making smarter and more sustainable purchases, achieve their environmental goals, and meet carbon commitments. The Solution: The ACT Environmental Impact Factor Label.
To transform sustainability in the laboratory product market, the groundbreaking ACT Eco Label Program from My Green Lab provides third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory products. This independent analysis supports product Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency (ACT), allowing manufacturers to effectively communicate the sustainability attributes and impacts of their products and support smarter, more informed purchases by laboratories.
With an ACT Eco Label, manufacturers demonstrate accountability for the environmental impact of their product and their dedication to reducing that impact. An ACT-labeled product also demonstrates a manufacturer's willingness to evaluate products with a consistent, industry-standardized method, and to transparently provide details of the product’s materials, manufacturing process, recyclability, energy and water consumption, durability, and manufacturing location. The ACT Eco Label clearly and effectively simplifies the process of selecting more sustainable products.
The ACT Eco Label Evaluation Categories
To provide in-depth, verified, and useful information, the ACT Eco Label Program evaluation process looks at all aspects of a product’s life cycle, measuring a variety of criteria that results in the most comprehensive eco label for life science products.
Like a Nutrition Facts Label for laboratory products, the ACT Eco Label communicates the complex environmental impact information for a product in an easy-to-understand format. Criteria for the ACT Eco Label were developed by industry experts including scientists, sustainability experts, procurement specialists, and manufacturers. Environmental Impact Factor (EIF) criteria in the ACT Eco Label fall into a variety of categories that are evaluated during the auditing process, including:
Each of the impact factors described here contributes to the environmental footprint of the product. By auditing and evaluating these product attributes to the ACT Eco Label Standard, My Green Lab helps manufacturers consider, measure, and drive continuous improvement in these factors, resulting in companies providing more sustainable products for laboratories.
Independent auditor SMS Collaborative (SMSC) has extensive experience evaluating products to the ACT Eco Label Standard, a process that provides clear, third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory products.
The ACT Eco Label’s Impact on the Laboratory Product Market
The ACT Eco Label Program incentivizes manufacturers to present information about their products in a transparent way, and to highlight innovations in sustainability. All ACT-labeled products are categorized by general product type (Consumables, Equipment, and Chemicals & Reagents) on the ACT Eco Label database, which is fully searchable and filterable. It allows laboratories to compare products before purchasing, and to evaluate the impact of products currently in use, by assessing the product scores overall and in each EIF category. The database can also be integrated into procurement databases, helping drive the adoption of more environmentally-friendly lab products at the point of purchase. For example, ACT Eco Labels are now fully searchable on the CiteAb reagent search engine, and are used by the Fisher Scientific database to identify greener products.
The impact that the ACT Eco Label program has on transparency in the lab product market is wide-ranging, with over 1,000 products in the ACT Eco Label database from 24 large and small manufacturers (as of November 2023). “The growth of the program highlights how important transparency is in the marketplace. As the market seeks to become more engaged when it comes to product sustainability, and lab sustainability as a whole, laboratories are helping drive the need for programs like ACT by encouraging more sustainable, third-party verified products from their suppliers,” says Raj Patey, My Green Lab’s Business Development Director.
“The program’s growth is not only resulting in more transparency in the market, but also in genuine product improvement. For example, some manufacturers are learning from the product audit process and subsequently making changes to their product’s packaging or manufacturing in ways they otherwise wouldn't have done without the guidance of the ACT Eco Label Program,” Patey noted.
ACT in Action
Demonstrating the industry’s united effort towards driving more sustainable practices, My Green Lab has partnered and worked with a variety of organizations that support the ACT Eco Label Program, including companies that label their products, and groups that use the database to find sustainable product solutions for their lab.
Thermo Fisher Scientific has one of the largest ACT-labeled product portfolios, with a wide variety of products, from Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers to beakers and cylinders. “ACT-labeling our portfolio helped us understand the myriad ways our products can help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. Plus, we can point customers to the ACT Eco Label database for scores and provide helpful insights to how the scores were generated – both of which will allow customers to make informed decisions when purchasing equipment,” Thermo Fisher Scientific told My Green Lab.
Bürkle GmbH recently introduced ACT Eco Labels for their LaboPlast® Bio and SteriPlast® Bio disposable samplers, featuring sugarcane-based bioplastic. “The T in the ACT [Eco] Label stands for Transparency. Transparency is a fundamental value that guides our every step. We believe that openness fosters understanding, and understanding builds trust,” Bürkle GmbH posted recently on LinkedIn. “To ensure more transparency, we have decided to have our products certified with the ACT [Eco] Label. Transparency isn't always about showcasing perfection; it's about admitting when we're learning, evolving, or finding new ways.”
Eppendorf has been in partnership with My Green Lab since 2017 and has a wide variety of products in the ACT Eco Label database, including the first centrifuge on the market to achieve sustainability recognition through the ACT Eco Label Program. “The ACT Program is… the only global program for laboratory equipment which addresses sustainability aspects and product life aspects. In 2017, we were just a very small group of suppliers supporting My Green Lab. Today, most of the bigger suppliers of lab equipment participate and label products by ACT. On the customer side, many pharma accounts are asking for ACT-labeled products, and also academic accounts are interested,” Eppendorf recently told BioProcess International.
Better Products for a Better Future
My Green Lab’s work reaches a global audience through education and collaboration with laboratories that want to bring sustainability to science. The ACT Eco Label is one part of a community working to drive real change within laboratories.
Through programs such as My Green Lab Certification and the Ambassador Program, the My Green Lab team continues to engage closely with laboratory communities. This work with scientists and lab professionals has illuminated a compelling need for clear, standardized information about laboratory products. It is well-recognized that a significant part of the carbon impact from a lab originates from the lab products they purchase and use. At its core, the ACT Eco Label program empowers scientists and procurement specialists to make well-informed decisions with sustainability goals top of mind.
The ACT Eco Label Program began as a consensus-based effort between manufacturers, procurement, sustainability professionals, and scientists who were deeply committed to improving the trajectory of sustainability in science. My Green Lab is now engaging with stakeholders throughout academia, sustainability, biotech, and pharma to guide revisions in the ACT Eco Label Program. This process will further support the uptake of the program across the entire industry, incorporate more product data for customer and manufacturer awareness, and continue to make choosing preferred lab products easier while updating the functionality of the database. As our process improves, we passionately believe that starting your sustainability journey with the ACT Eco Label not only steers you towards enhanced customer engagement and reduced product impact over time, but also contributes to creating a better future.