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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, Chemical Science, Computer Science, Physics, and Biological Sciences.
  • 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 since 2016 in courses in Psychology and Chemistry. Sociology was also involved in 2017. View the Global clothing industry video.

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 influence purchases so that the environmental measures included in the list of factors to be considered in the University Procurement Policy, are given priority.

The group is working with the Sustainable Labs group and Group Service Leaders 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:

Waste project

In 2017, a waste project was conducted throughout the Science Centre. The project involved four key elements: mapping the location of bins throughout Buildings 301, 302, 303; a waste audit; a review of the Faculty of Science Compost Project (conducted by Anoma Ratnayake and Anna Santure); a survey of staff and graduate students; and a brief investigation of the waste systems at other New Zealand universities.

Outcome so far:

  • As a result of this project all bins are now correctly labelled to ensure compost, recycling, paper recycling and landfill waste is separated at the point of collection. All staff tea rooms in the Science Centre have compost bins and the Faculty was part of a university-wide food diversion trial in 2017.

Public 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 to date have been on waste, transport, sustainable systems, water, the global clothing industry and communications
  • In 2018 we hosted the University’s Winter Lecture Series on the theme of Aotearoa in 2030.

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.

Student sustainability clubs

See here for several student clubs that focus on sustainability issues.