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Biotech and Pharma Need More Green Labs


If the last year has shown us nothing else, it’s the huge impact biotechnology and pharmaceutical research has on our lives. But according to a recent study from My Green Lab and Urgentem (a widely recognized provider of emissions data, climate risk analytics, and advisory services), biotech and pharma also have an outsized impact on global climate change.  my green lab logo

On an annual basis, carbon emissions from the biotech/pharma sector are estimated to exceed those of the forestry/paper, semiconductor, and automotive industries. In fact, the biotech and pharma carbon footprint is roughly half that of the entire United Kingdom. Its climate impact is nearly twice that of Nigeria. (Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world, home to more than 211 million people.)

(You can download the entire report on the My Green Labs website.)

The Long Road to Greener Labs

This is far from surprising. We’ve long noted that a shocking percentage of “sustainability research” is done in labs that do not operate sustainably. On balance, research labs are major resource consumers. According to most estimates, a research lab’s energy consumption is 3 to 10 times greater than that of similarly sized office spaces.

Unfortunately, the recent My Green Labs study found that just 4% of biotech and pharma companies are on track to meet Paris 2030 Climate Goals. Meeting these goals is vital to keeping global warming below the 1.5 ̊C threshold. 

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, breaking this threshold will be catastrophic. The rate of plant and animal extinction will more than double. Insect extinction will triple. Sea levels will rise further, heat waves and droughts will last longer, crop and fishery yields will drop. Coral reefs will be nearly eradicated. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to plunge into poverty. 

As James Connelly, the CEO of My Green Lab, explained, ​”While some leading companies are making bold, ambitious commitments to zero carbon, the rest of the industry is lagging. The next ten years, which is approximately the time it takes to bring a successful drug to the market, will be a critical period for biotech and pharma. … [S]cience can and must lead the world in combating global climate change, starting with reducing their own footprint.”

Green Labs Need Efficient Equipment 

Priorclave North America has always sharply focused on efficiency, supplying labs throughout North America with sterilizers that use 83% less energy and 97% less water than conventional models.

As Priorclave North America CEO Barbra Wells recently explained:

“We’ve been proud to play even a small part in driving a much needed conversation about sustainable lab operations. In 2018, Priorclave became the first autoclave manufacturer in the world to join My Green Labs’ ACT Label program. The ACT initiative aims to reduce the environmental impact of labs by sharing third-party verified information. This makes it possible for the end user to make informed decisions when choosing lab tools and supplies. “