The #PRBBSustainability group

Learn about this initiative born from the staff of the centers that make up the PRBB to promote sustainability in research.

Imatge d'uns matrassos de vidre amb plantes creixent dins

Science is one of the sectors that generates the most waste. That is why more and more researchers or groups seek to improve the sustainability of the sector. Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Did you know that according to an estimate published in Nature, the waste generated in a year in research in the biology, medicine and agriculture sectors weighs the equivalent of 67 cruise ships?

I propose you do an exercise: collect all the pippette tips, containers and other material that is discarded during a week in your laboratory and put it all together at the end. I assure you that you will be surprised by the amount you collect! You can see the result of this small experiment on the website of Green labs Austria, a movement that, like many others, was born from scientists who have become aware of the environmental impact of current research.

Tobias Hoffmann, an alumni of the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG), is one of these scientists. Inspired by Scientists4Future, he participated under this same slogan in the Fridays4Future demonstrations. It was this event that lit the fuse for what is now the #PRBBSustainability group, a group that has inherited the values that started these demonstrations and that Tobias, along with other members of the PRBB, are trying to preserve.

“I realized that, in the PRBB, there were more and more people motivated to commit to the climate and sustainability, and I made the effort to bring them all together”

Tobias Hoffmann
(founder of the #PRBBSustainability group)

From idea to action

That is why the #PRBBSustainability group wants to join this transformative movement, catalyze changes towards more sustainable practices and raise awareness of them inside and outside the PRBB.

To raise awareness, we organize different activities such as questionnaires on recycling or outings to the beach to clean up. We are also planning a series of seminars to publicize initiatives to promote sustainability that are being carried out in different European institutions.

The cycle will begin next month with:

  • Donate Weghorn, PI at the CRG and head of the center’s sustainability committee, will give us a brief overview of the sustainability practices that the CRG is trying to implement.
  • Melina Kerou, from Green Labs Austria that will talk about how to enhance recycling plastic at the lab.
  • Marta Rodriguez, Sustainability Officer at EMBL, who will talk about her professional path until she reached her current position.

On the other hand, the type of change initiatives that we promote from the platform range from the use of reusable laboratory material, the reduction of packaging or waste management to the accessibility of the park for emission-free transport, such as bicycles or scooters.

The energy of the movement

The key to this initiative lies on its transversal organization, which brings together people from all the institutes that make up the PRBB and which allows initiatives to be promoted in a coordinated and collective manner.

“The important thing was that someone started the movement, because many people were impatient to take action”

Tobias Hoffmann

Although there is much work ahead, we inspire and lead a local transformation, which can already be felt in the park itself. If you also have ideas on how to improve research practices and want to be part of the change, you can join us:

  • the first Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. in the PRBB cafeteria
  • in the new PRBBSustainability slack space

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