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MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit


MBU Green Team

Why Have a Green Team?

There is extensive data documenting the unsustainable level at which global natural resources are currently being used and the rate at which waste (e.g. carbon dioxide or other plastics) can be handled by the planet's life-cycle. A simple measure of this is the Earth Overshoot day, which estimates the day of each year in which earth's natural resources have been fully consumed for the year. This year it fell on July 29th, meaning that from then we are using the resources of the future.

A recent report by an internationally-recognised body, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) confirms that without any change in policy, certain thresholds will be passed within the decade that will induce a cascade effect, further worsening the damage to environment, ultimately affecting the lifestyle of all humans in the planet.

We, in the MBU Green Team, are aware of these phenomena and are trying to do our part to stop this process. Refusing to bend to a cynical attitude, we are taking several actions to join in the global movement to avoid a climate catastrophe. Our actions revolve around a progressively ambitious set of principles to:

  • Reduce consumption of energy and material
  • Reuse or recycle any lab and non-lab related material that we can
  • Educate members of the unit on the above and the actions that they can take outside the unit

Who Are We?

The Green Team is made up of staff, students, and postdocs. We aim to have at least one member from each laboratory.

What Do We Do?

So far, some of the things we've done in the unit include:

  • Setting up the Starlab pipette Recycling scheme.
  • Introducing a variety of recycling schemes for unusual but common everyday waste including batteries, nespresso pods, stationary, ink cartridges, and crisp packets. This is often through Terracycle or similar schemes.
  • Encouraging -80C freezer to be set to -70C.
  • Encouraging people to turn lights and equipment off when they are not in use.
  • Encourage the use of reusable cups over disposable ones, and promoting Fairtrade and local/sustainable food.

Green Impact

What is Green Impact?

Green Impact is a United Nations award-winning programme designed to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice with universities and departments. There are multiple levels of award, each with different criteria that need to be met by the department across a variety of areas.

Green Impact Bronze Award 2020-2021

This year we aimed to get our first Green Impact award, the bronze. We’re pleased to say that we achieved this, and are looking forward to moving onto silver next year.

As part of the Bronze award, we made a variety of change to the unit. This included labelling light switches so people could know what to turn off, ensuring all bins are labelled correctly, and making sure that the unit’s Green Issues Intranet page was up to date and full of relevant information. Unit fridges were also checked to ensure they were all between 3˚C and 5˚C to reduce energy usage.

We were also able to implement some of the ideas in the new “Work From Home” category of Green Impact, such as promoting the benefits of washing laundry at 30C and switching to LED lightbulbs.


Silver Award

We hope to get the Silver Award in 2021-2022! We have already started working towards the silver criteria – for example, by recruiting students for the Green Team.