Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Sustainability initiatives

Sustainable laboratories

Sustainable labs: Our mission is to educate lab managers, student researchers, lab users, staff and academics to be more sustainable in their lab practices. The goal is to provide tools and resources in order to implement sustainable practices and reduce waste within research laboratories. Basically, we want to reduce waste, power, water usage, and encourage eco-friendly alternatives whenever possible within lab spaces at the University of Auckland.

Outcome so far:

  • Established a working group (since 2015) with technical and professional staff representatives from Environment, Psychology, Chemistry, Computer science, Physics, and Biological sciences (SBS).
  • In 2017 we designed a sustainable labs logo, progress beaker and sticky labels that assist with their lab audits.
  • School of Psychology: Schools EEG lab has incorporated E-waste recycling of caps and computer materials, re-useable towel cloth system for experiments, eliminated DVD disk for data, eco-friendly products for washing, reduction of water use and recycling of all plastic matter. This lab is looking to incorporate plants in the EEG lab to recycle the water produced from the condensing dryer.
  • School of Environment: Blair Sowman and his team are working towards green lab audits, recycling of green waste matter, and glass recycling from their moves. Louise Cotterall helped to design and commissioned the sustainable labs logo, progress beaker and sticky labels.
  • School of Biological sciences: now uses eco-friendly alternative tip boxes instead of one use plastic ones. (see image of reduced waste), as well as changes to the way they use water supply for experiments, bulk purchasing to reduce single plastic waste, and display the eco-tips in their breakout spaces.
  • School of chemical sciences: Tim Lyat, Anoma Ratnayake are working towards lab audits, dry ice box recycling and school composting.
  • School of Physics: Damir Azhar is working towards sustainability in teaching labs and the school has incorporated composting.

Teaching case-study

The Teaching case-study involves cross-disciplinary teaching, student collaboration and assessment on a sustainability related issue.

Outcome so far: A teaching case-study on the global clothing industry has been taught in 2016 and 2017 in courses in Psychology, Chemistry and Sociology.



Sustainable purchasing

The Sustainable Purchasing group is developing a business case to engage decision-makers at the University in ‘sustainable purchasing.’ The group aims to identify practical ways to implement  University policy commitments to sustainable operating practices. An intention is to have input on the procurement policy review process so that  there are standards in place to ensure vendors meet measureable environmental obligations.

The group is working with the Sustainable Labs group to identify large suppliers and engage with them re environmental options. This includes identifying practical means to enable environment-based purchasing choices and avoid excess/non-recyclable packaging. The group is also looking at environmental choice in the wider workplace, including the use of recycled paper and fair trade coffee, biodegradable or re-useable items for events, and better access to recycling options for polystyrene, packaging material, paper, food waste and e-waste.

Outcome so far:

Compost bins

There are currently compost bins in several staff tearooms in the faculty, including in Psychology, Chemical Sciences, Environment, Computer Science, Biological Sciences. In the short term, the group is looking to increase the number of bins in use with a longer term vision to aid the university in large-scale composting projects.

Outcome so far:

  • With a significant growth in the number of compost bins, more volunteers are wanted for the lovely job of emptying them. Please contact Anoma Ratnayake regarding the compost bins in the Sector 300 science buildings.

Seminar series

Twice a year we deliver a public seminar on a sustainability issue that features Faculty of Science speakers as well as a guest speaker from the community.

Outcome so far:

  • Our seminars in 2016 and 2017 have been on waste, transport, sustainable systems, water and the global clothing industry
  • Planning is underway for 2018

Sustainability and environment at the University of Auckland

The University of Auckland is committed to pursuing sustainability via environmental excellence.

For more information about the University of Auckland's committment to sustainable processes, please see sustainability and environment.