The ACT Environmental Impact Factor Label was designed by My Green Lab to address the need of both scientists and procurement specialists for clear, third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory products. By emphasizing Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency (ACT) around manufacturing, energy and water use, packaging, and end-of-life, ACT makes it easy to choose more sustainable products.
The opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of labs through smarter purchases is tremendous. By procuring instruments and products that will reduce waste, reduce energy consumption, reduce solvent/consumable consumption, and last longer (reducing the need to buy and discard more instruments), laboratories can operate in a more environmentally sustainable way.
The ACT Environmental Impact Factor (EIF) label was designed to address the needs of both scientists and procurement specialists for clear, third-party verified information about the environmental impact of laboratory products. Standing for Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency, the ACT label is like an eco-nutrition label for laboratory products. It provides information about the environmental impact of manufacturing, using, and disposing of a product and its packaging—making it easy to choose more sustainable products.
Agilent Technologies provides instruments, services, consumables, applications, and expertise to life science, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets. With environmental sustainability at the core of their values, Agilent understands the importance of reducing the environmental impact of labs through more sustainable products.
“Increasingly, many labs are looking to reduce their environmental impact—while at the same time increase productivity, lower costs, and improve laboratory health and safety. Our commitment to sustainability has led to a new driver for innovation as we strive to find new ways to help our customers reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining highly successful laboratory operations,” said Darlene Solomon, chief technology officer at Agilent.
"At Agilent, we strive to produce robust and reliable instruments that last for years, if not decades. By creating long-lasting instrumentation, customers can reduce their turnover and disposal of instruments," said Jennifer Gushue, associate vice president of global marketing for the Mass Spectrometry Division at Agilent.
The Agilent team worked together to complete the ACT label certification process. This project resulted in 30 labels across 10 products, including their liquid chromatography and gas chromatography systems in the EU, UK, and US. These labels are now part of, and available for download in, the My Green Lab ACT Label Database.
A continual need of the life science industry
My Green Lab's recently published report reveals that just 4% of biotech and pharma companies are currently on track to meet the Paris 2030 climate goals to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. The life science industry must assume responsibility for carbon reduction—including the manufacturers, suppliers, and end users of lab products.
Understanding the motivation for green practices is an essential first step in improving the sustainability of scientific research fundamentally and permanently. But what comes next? How do we achieve sustainability in the laboratory?
Manufacturers of analytical instrumentation can significantly reduce the impact they impose upon the environment. They can responsibly source their materials and parts and operate in a way that minimizes their environmental footprint, with the long-term goal of being net negative.
My Green Lab's ACT program is helping manufacturers create a culture of sustainability through science. Focused on enhancing sustainability in products and manufacturing for the laboratory industry, ACT is a thoughtfully designed, multi-attribute eco-label program.
A substantial partnership
For Agilent, partnering with My Green Lab's ACT label program was in line with the organization's core business model. Agilent produces robust, reliable instruments that last for years and are strategically designed to have less impact on the environment. Through this partnership, Agilent has successfully earned ACT labels for various instruments and systems. The result? Allowing for more environmentally friendly products to end up in the labs of their customers.
"Years ago, I was searching for a suitable program but never found one that looked at products in such a cradle-to-grave approach as the ACT label program. To have this specifically for the laboratory market segment that Agilent serves, was the cherry on the cake," said Michael Frank, associate vice president of global marketing for the Liquid Phase Separation Division at Agilent.
Agilent's approach towards sustainable lab products
Agilent engineers pay particular attention to a wide range of factors involved in the product development process. One of these critical factors is the environmental impact of the product. "Our instruments are strategically designed to have a low impact on the environment, and we continue to achieve this through various ways," explained Michael Frank.
Jim Gearing, associate vice president of global marketing for the Gas Phase Separation Division at Agilent added, "Agilent products are designed and built to address hidden associated costs that greatly affect the lab and lab business. Examples of hidden costs may include power use, waste production, removal of packaging materials, and recycling of old equipment, just to name a few.” He continued, “Built-in instrument intelligence for Agilent GCs is also developed with sustainability in mind. Instrument intelligence helps the GC minimize reruns and re-extractions while increasing time efficiency. It also minimizes hazardous waste from unnecessary sample re-extractions, providing savings to the lab."
Working with My Green Lab to certify products through the ACT label program has positively affected Agilent's sustainability culture, not only with customers, but also within their organization. "The innovation that went into reducing the size of our instruments by 70% without compromising performance has a significant effect on reducing our environmental impact," stated Jennifer Gushue.
Enabling sustainable procurement
Sustainable laboratory procurement reduces laboratory waste in terms of materials and product packaging. It is also likely to be more cost-effective for lab operations. For instance, sustainable laboratory procurement can save on hidden costs such as power use, waste production, removal of packaging materials, and recycling of old equipment.
The ACT label program helps Agilent have better-informed discussions about sustainability with their customers. The labels allow Agilent to obtain a comprehensive overview of the areas that impact the environment most. Ultimately, Agilent can help their customers achieve their own sustainability goals by enabling procurement of environmentally friendly lab instruments.
"This certification adds third-party credibility to the emphasis Agilent has had on sustainability for years. Agilent will continue to be environmentally conscious in production, distribution, development, and eventual recycling. Using the ACT label as a measurement tool, we will continue to develop GC systems that save laboratory resources and help our customers meet their sustainability goals," explained Jim Gearing.
A goal for lasting change
"My Green Lab gave us great recommendations for improvements as well as suggested topics we may consider for longer-term future changes in our instrument platforms and business operations," said Michael Frank.
Agilent is now pursuing further opportunities regarding its sustainability efforts. These new actions will continue to reduce impact on the environment and provide their customers with greener product innovations. They have also created innovative designs that have significantly reduced the size of instruments, reducing waste by saving resources such as packaging and surplus transportation.
"The ACT certification aligns perfectly with Agilent's long-term sustainability-guiding principles, which are highlighted in our 2020 CSR Report. Particularly, this enables our customers to operate more sustainably and address world challenges using our products and services," said Michael Frank. He continued, "Making products sustainably requires a forward-thinking mindset, and I strongly believe that my colleagues who are involved throughout the product development process at Agilent already have this."
The passion for lab sustainability has spread rapidly at Agilent as more people are engaging in various discussions around sustainability. This is highly encouraging, and Agilent's partnership with My Green Lab and the ACT label certification will continue to have a positive influence throughout their organization.
Learn more about the ACT label and how you can label your products by clicking here!
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