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SEAC laboratories become first in Unilever to receive gold LEAF accreditation


SEAC laboratories achieve gold award accreditation first time around in recognition for their long commitment and concerted efforts towards creating sustainable laboratories.

Container containing liquid substance in laboratory

Unilever has a clear purpose to make sustainable living commonplace. SEAC lab researchers apply high standards of research quality and lab practices to deliver environmentally responsible innovation and research. Therefore, we are proud to be one of the first industrial labs to take part in LEAF and receive a Gold award.

Achieving gold LEAF accreditation has enabled us to further demonstrate our sustainability commitments. For example, one of the LEAF criteria is the reduction of plastic waste, a Unilever goal. By exclusively purchasing lab consumables made of recycled plastic (post-consumer recycled plastics) and biobased polymers from used cooking oil, we not only managed to significantly reduce our consumption of non-renewable fossil-based plasticware but also participated in the circulation economy of the lab consumables production.

What is LEAF?

LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) is an internationally recognised standard for sustainable laboratory operations. Initially created for university laboratories it is now being extended to industry. Laboratories are resource intensive due to the equipment, water and resources they consume. Did you know a typical lab uses 3-10 times the amount of energy per m2 than a typical office space? Conducting a LEAF assessment gives users the opportunity to calculate the impact of their actions in terms of cost and carbon emission savings.

LEAF covers not just environmental aspects such as waste management, procurement, energy efficiency and chemical management but also business travel and research practices. Three levels can be awarded - Bronze, Silver and Gold - each with a specific set of criteria. LEAF is supported by the UKRN (UK reproducibility network), in recognition that high-quality research is sustainable research, and by the National Technician Development Centre (NTDC), in recognition that the application of sustainable lab practices improves career development and visibility for technical staff.

Detail of UCL recognition for the LEAF Gold Award 2023

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