March 2016
University of Bristol

Sharps and Bio-bin tender

The University of Bristol recently led an innovative eAuction for sharps containers and Bio-bins. We teamed up with the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) and it was the first time both parties have ever taken part in such an exercise. The premise is basically a 'reverse ebay' where suppliers out-bid each other to a lower price. 

The aim of the exercise was as follows:

  • to ensure that all lab waste collection receptacles comply with disposal regulations.

  • to simplify and make an efficient purchasing process for these items by making available to end users only the products included in the eAuction.

  • to secure best prices for the product range, enhance transparency of the supply chain, consolidate invoicing and improve account management to allow for contract development.

  • to source ALL the products from the supplier offering the lowest price.

  • to reduce superfluous packaging and deliveries to site.

  • to bring us to a point where we can explore a contracted reusable service.

After consultation with lab users across the University, we identified a range of 30 products that we require, including Bio-bins, Wiva and sharps containers.

The winning bidder was Fisher Scientific and as a result we achieved a financial saving of over 21% - £17,000/year. In addition, we are working on streamlining the available choices of bins on Science Warehouse from hundreds to tens which will save time and lessen confusion for staff when purchasing. 
S-Lab workshop
On February 29th the University of Bristol hosted an S-Lab workshop on 'How to Minimise Laboratory Energy Use and Environmental Impact'. The event was attended by University staff as well as sustainability professionals from other universities. 

It was our pleasure to have Dr Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar visit from the University of Colorado, Boulder and inform us about the projects and progress they are making in the Sustainable Labs field over the pond. Kathy, and a lot more generally the USA, have been focussing on reducing the environmental impact of labs since 2007. The UK is slightly behind but is picking up momentum, and the University of Bristol is working with 13 other leading Universities and S-Lab to encourage, advise and provide resources for further institutions to implement their own programs. 

It was great to see delegates enthusiastically engaged in discussion and propose suggestions and ideas for the UoB Sustainable Labs Initiative, as well as how to encourage the wider University community to get involved. We came away with ideas ranging from alternative cold storage racking solutions, Junior Technician's Green Lab Leader roles, financial incentivisation techniques, positive public recognition, visual management guides and a lot more. Get in touch if you if you have any of your own ideas for your lab.   

Chemical waste: update and changes

Over the last three years Sustainability has been encouraging better lab housekeeping and have been supporting this through regular chemical waste collections under a very competitive contract with Labwaste UK. This allowed backlogged and unknown waste to be removed in a very cost effective way for the University.

Due to recent changes in legislation, the cost of waste disposal in the UK (especially hazardous and chemical waste) is due to increase after April 1st 2016.

In June 2015 new legislation was imposed upon the industry (WM3) which changed some of the classification of waste, reducing flexibility and increasing cost. This has been further exaggerated by more new legislation in July 2015 – the Emissions Directive (IED) which required disposal sites to re-permit, and in the process incur numerous additional costs. In the last few months oil prices have fallen to record lows, which is good for our energy bills but it means that alternate fuel (solvent) prices have increased as burning new oil becomes more attractive. so our recovered solvent costs are increasing. 


The University is in a new tendering cycle for all waste contracts so we will be testing the market for best value over the coming months to help us deliver the high service we have experienced to date in the most cost effective way. 


As a lab user we are asking you to be as efficient with your purchasing and use of chemicals as possible to minimise wastage from the top down. You still continue to book collections as you have done over the last three years but we will be insisting that your chemical forms are fully completed or they will be returned to you. Please do remember to always book collections and make sure you store them in accordance with regulations in the meantime (in waste chemical store rooms etc) We will be less able to afford 'unknowns' so if chemicals are found and can't be identified we may need to recharge a proportion of this cost to you. This will be at discretion and we will always speak to you about this. We don't want chemical waste being stockpiled due to this. If you have genuine historical unknowns we will still collect them from you but will hold them at 1-9 Old Park Hill until we have sufficient stock to book a chemist to classify them on a day rate. We currently get this service free of charge. 

Costs of solvents will also increase so any efficiencies that you can make with waste will be appreciated. 

Lab Equipment Database
By obtaining information about the equipment we have in our labs and how much energy it uses we can:
  • identify inefficient equipment for potential upgrades
  • identify inefficient practices e.g. equipment being left on when it could be turned off
  • estimate heating/cooling costs associated with equipment and labs
  • improve potential sharing of equipment between labs
  • understand how space is used 
  • help Capital Projects when planning future lab developments 
If you'd like to add to the database, the Sustainable Labs Officer can provide you with an energy meter and guidance whilst the spreadsheet can be accessed here. Additionally, it will help your lab gain Green Lab accreditation! 


1) Sustainable Labs UoB will be speaking at the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) conference at UWE in May. The theme for this year's Annual Conference is Learning and Legacy: The Role of Education in Creating Healthier, Happier Cities

2) PLASTIC WASTE. Remember that ALL plastic is recycled here at the University of Bristol. This includes black plastic, crisp packets, carrier bags etc, If it's made of plastic we recycle it and audits have shown us that 70% of our black bag waste can still be recycled. Within labs this means that you can recycle wrapping on samples, tips and plastic consumables, as long as there's no contamination. See the laboratory recycling guide

Our mailing address is:

Website: S-Labs UoB 

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list