UCL Ear Institute


Ear Institute wet labs sustainability award

12 August 2019

The Ear Institute wet labs have been awarded a bronze LEAF Award.

Caitlin Broadbent with her pot plant award

The Laboratory Efficiency Asssessment Framework (LEAF) is an initiative ran by UCL Sustainability to reduce waste and measure efficiency using a tool that measures criteria based around recycling, equipment management, procurement and more. Laboratories taking part are then awarded a bronze, silver or gold achievment level and recognised at an award event.

We sat down with Caitlin Broadbent the Ear Institutes Cell and Molecular Biology Technician who was instrumental in creating many of the initiatives that led to the award, received at a ceremony in July.

Hi Caitlin, congratulations, who was involved in achieving the award?

I was involved in putting us forward for the Bronze award and to do this I got in contact with Martin Farley at Green UCL and also took inspiration and ideas from Alison Dolling at the School of Pharmacy.

What strategies in particular did you implement that were recognised?

We applied for Bronze based on a set of criteria which were part of the LEAF award. This meant we had to have certain processes in place such as clear labelling on bins, information about closing and turning off fume cupboards, proper waste management – not just recycling but also not unnecessarily using our clinical waste bins. We put in place a schedule for the Autoclave so it was run on certain days to minimise unnecessary use, they counted our induction procedure which includes information on lab sustainability and we did little things like put timers on equipment so it would shut down automatically overnight but still be ready to use in the morning. Our recent move to an online booking system will also aid in sustainability practices – sharing equipment and tracking use are important to see how efficiently we’re working as an Institute.

Are there any parts of your sustanability planning that could be rolled out to other parts of the Institute?

There are definitely things we can roll out to the rest of the Institute, mainly from hearing what other departments have been doing in their offices and labs. Changes like having only vegetarian and vegan food at conferences, meetings and short courses, moving to glasses and plates instead of disposable serve ware, and considering the energy value from cradle to grave of new purchases, especially new equipment.

What next for the wet labs?

The next thing I’m hoping to do is put together an Ear Institute Green team to not only help us reach Silver for sustainability in the labs but also work on the rest of the building– we have yet to win a sustainability award for the offices! I have a few people already interested but if you’d like to get involved please get in touch!  

LEAF sustainability awards