Proposals for the mitigation of the environmental impact of clinical laboratories
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Laboratories should be aware of the carbon footprint resulting from their activities and take steps to mitigate it as part of their societal responsibilities. Once committed to a mitigation programme, they should announce an environmental policy, secure the support of senior management, initiate documentation, institute a staff training programme, schedule environmental audits and appoint an environmental manager. Laboratories may aspire to be accredited to one of the standards for environmental management, such as the ISO 14000. As environmental and quality issues are linked, the improvement in the environmental management of an organisation will ultimately lead to improved quality system performance. Indeed, environmental management could conceivably come under overall quality management. Although there will be initial costs, good environmental practices can bring savings. Environmental improvement should be based on the 3R concept to reduce, reuse and recycle. Several policy initiatives may be introduced. These include a green purchasing policy for equipment, laboratory furniture and reagents as well as the management of packaging wastes. There are several ways to reduce energy, water usage and wastage. A reduction of test numbers and collection tubes should be attempted. Paper management involves all aspects of 3R. The recycling of solvents and general wastes should be practised where feasible. The construction new laboratories or renovations to existing ones are opportunities to make them more environmentally-friendly. The advocacy of policies to associates and the inclusion of environmentally-friendly conditions on contractors are integral parts of the programme.
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