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LEAF: Sustainability at Plymouth Marine Laboratory

23 March 2023

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Laboratories are currently responsible for around 2% of global plastic waste and can use between 3-10x more energy per m2 than the average office space.  

To help reduce this environmental impact, laboratories can use the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) as a self-assessment tool to improve sustainability measures. It targets areas from reducing single-use plastics and energy demand, to increasing awareness around sustainability.  

Plymouth Marine Laboratory is applying the LEAF framework in efforts to improve sustainability, and we are pleased to say that all laboratories within PML are now at a ‘Bronze’ standard, making good progress to ‘Silver’. 


In 2022, we set a target for our laboratories to complete Bronze LEAF certification by the end of 2022. To achieve this goal, laboratories followed actions laid out by LEAF to save plastics, water, energy, and other resources.  

These actions included increasing the temperature of ULT freezers from -80°C to -70°C to reduce energy demand, increasing sustainability awareness of scientific equipment use, reviewing the requirement for cold storage in laboratories and improving the sharing of chemicals and consumables to reduce waste throughout our activities. 

LEAF project leads Dr Rachael Rees and Dr Frances Hopkins said: 

“We have found LEAF to be a simple and useful tool to highlight areas for improvement within individual laboratories. For example, using the LEAF calculators, we have found that switching fume cupboards off over the weekends can save an average of £358 and 1.47 CO2 Emissions (Tonnes) annually. Our aim is to make these small changes across Plymouth Marine Laboratory to support PMLs goal for net-zero carbon by 2040, and a significantly reduced environmental impact by 2025.” 

"We are proud to support the LEAF initiative and encourage other laboratories across the globe to consider applying the framework.” 

More information on the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) here >>  

In December 2022, PML Group achieved ISO14001 Certification in Environmental Management and being involved in the LEAF framework was a significant factor in helping us achieve this Certification.


ISO 14001 accreditations awarded to PML in 2022.

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