Sustainability for Tubes and Plates

Samples need to be handled and stored in vessels. Since mid of the 1960, polymer-based microtubes, conical vessels as well as plates have become more and more popular.

For the last decades, these polymer-based consumables are indespensable in molecular labs. Constant quality levels combined with sterility and acceptable costs are mandatory for reliable scientific results.

How can I find sustainable tubes and plates?

Biopolymers & recycled raw material
The other big topic of consumables addresses biopolymers and recycled polymers as starting material for consumable production instead of using fossil 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 plastic 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, biobased 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 worldwide, based on polypropylene which is based on biobased Used cooking oil (UCO) as source.

Waste & recycling
These consumables like tubes and plates 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.

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.

Your Future Lab Perspective

»Making polymer products and components substantially and measurably more sustainable according to the »Reduce, Reuse, Recycle« concept without compromising product quality and performance«

Since oil-based plastic vessels have replaced glass vessels, they have become irreplaceable in laboratories around the world, providing quality standards needed in increasingly demanding research. This is the growing challenge in respect to sustainability. Thus, Eppendorf not only focuses on the development of new products but also on new, more environmentally friendly manufacturing materials. For the first time, we are in a position to offer a generation of Eppendorf Tubes® with screw caps in 5.0 mL, 15 mL, 25 mL and 50 mL made of a certified polypropylene based on renewable reused raw materials.

  • The food oil wastes and residues used to produce the renewable feedstock based polypropylene are traceable to the first collection points.
  • The renewable feedstock based polypropylene and all manufacturing steps are sustainability certified by ISCC PLUS – a reliable, world leading certification system.
  • The renewable feedstock content is determined via the ISCC mass balance approach.
  • The resulting materials for the polyolefins used meet the same strict specifications, purity and quality, regardless of whether they are fossil-based or renewable feedstock based recycled raw materials.

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 glas 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
  • 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 up to 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
  • No leachables in tubes to avoid any negative impact on sample material
  • Plates are equipped with OptiTrack – clear alphanumeric marking of wells support peace of mind during work and reduce risk of mistakes/ repetition
  • Packaging can be recycled (cardboard and PP foil wrapping)
  • PP material of racks can be recycled as long as it is contamination-free
  • Tubes and plates are difficult to recycle due to biohazard and chemical load