Sustainability for Pipette Tips & Boxes

Liquid-based samples need to be transferred by pipettes, dispensers or liquid handling robots. For accurate and clean sample transfer, single-use tips made of polymers are used. For the last decades, these polymer-based consumables are indispensable in molecular labs. Constant quality levels combined with sterility and acceptable costs are mandatory for reliable scientific results.

How can I find sustainable tips, racks, and boxes?

Waste & recycling
These consumables like tips and boxes are a challenge in respect to sustainability. Labs producing bags full of used consumables are a common situation. They produce waste that is a mixture of different polymers like polypropylene, polystyrole, polyethylene, etc. On top, there is the challenge of potential bio hazards and chemical hazards within this waste. Recycling of plastic lab waste is currently a big challenge with no established technology available.

Biopolymers & recycled raw material
The other big topic of consumables addresses biopolymers and recycled polymers as starting material for consumable production instead of using oil based polymers.

Consumables based on recycled polymers still do not perform in the same way as consumables produced with oil-based polypropylene. Despite a lot of R&D efforts, performance and sterility levels of lab consumables based on recycling material do not fulfill the high expectations of the scientists in the lab in combination with realistic costs for these consumables. Especially the risk of leachables from recycled plastic still needs to be improved.

In contrast to recycling material, biopolymer raw material can be used as starting material for lab consumables. Mid of 2022, Eppendorf launched one of the first tubes for laboratory molecular work based on polypropylene which is based on biopolymers as source.

Reduce packaging waste
The usage of refill systems for pipette tips is a good starting point to reduce the amount of plastic waste. These tips are available either as bulk ware in bags or as a replaceable reload system, which is placed on top of a box. By the way, a box is quite durable and can be autoclaved up to 100 times, a rack up to 10 times.

There will be alternative production methods in the future, and our R&D experts do their very best to improve – but it still needs time for consumables based on recycled polymers. The first step of improvements by using biobased polymers for tubes is done.polymer raw material can be used as starting material for lab consumables. Mid of 2022, Eppendorf launched one of the first tubes for laboratory molecular work based on polypropylene which is based on biopolymers as source.

Learn more about the product life cycle:

  • Focus on electronic documentation
  • Supply by 100% renewable energy
  • Exchange of most of the neon tubes to LED lamps to save electric energy
  • Exchange of windows to 3-level glass windows in all major production areas
  • Improving laser-based printing to reduce color printing
  • Reduction of usage of challenging polymers like polycarbonates where possible
  • Constant monitoring and in-house tests of biopolymers
  • Reduction of tip material by thinning out the material
  • Production by 100% renewable energy
  • Update of all air-conditions systems within the last 10 years
  • Combined heat and power plant provides ca. 40% of needed electric energy; heat is used within production, resulting in an efficiency factor of nearly 80% of the power plant
  • Water-based cooling system for production is equipped with energy-efficient pumps
  • New compressor systems with heat recovery and energy-optimized control units
  • On-going replacement of pneumatic production machines by energy-saving electric driven instruments
  • Vacuum systems driven my up-to-date pumps for energy saving and low noise emission
  • Humidifiers with energy-efficient high-pressure systems
  • Cardboard material of boxing is made of at least 90% recycled material
  • Production waste (cardboard, foils, and plastic waste) is collected in mono-fractions and recycled
  • Local warehouses to reduce drop-shipments
  • Packaging parts have increasing share of recycled origin
  • Packaging can be recycled by 100%
  • Focus on electronic media
  • Focus on certified paper for print material
  • Water-based ink
  • Carbon neutrally printing of marketing material
  • Supply by 100% renewable energy in marketing department
  • Refill systems to keep the box as multi-use tool
  • Color-coding of the tip volume classes and trays for easy and convenient  selection of fitting pipette
  • Packaging can be recycled (cardboard folding box and packaging foil of standard/ bulk ware)
  • PP material of racks can be recycled as long as it is contamination-free
  • Tips are difficult to recycle due to biohazard and chemical load