Project no. 208
Implementing Circular Economy in the Biotech
N. Friberg Klysner, A. Heidtmann
DTU Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark
The use of disposable plastic has enabled the biotech industry to increase in effectiveness
rapidly. Though, it also has its downsides. It is estimated, that 5.5 million tonnes of
disposable plastic is used in laboratories every single year [Andersson, 2017].
In collaboration with the Norwegian biotech company BioBank, the goal of this project has
been to implement circular economy in the biotech industry. The material flow through
BioBank was investigated over a two-week test period. The resulting Material Flow Analysis
was utilized to gain insights into which areas have the most potential for improvement.
It was found that 60% of the plastic from using pipette tips comes from the packaging of the
tips. This is equivalent to 25% of BioBank’s total plastic consumption. The company
consumes more than 60 kg of plastic per week, despite having only 7 employees.
The concept aims to eliminate the disposable boxes which the tips are sold in. The concept
is a machine, which dispenses tips in the standard 96 format into reusable boxes. The tips
are bought in single stacks, with only minimal packaging. The machine is loaded with the
tips, and is then ready to dispense. This concept is one of the solutions created during the
project, and can be seen as a contribution to the vision of circular economy.
Figure 1: Illustration of the tip dispenser concept
Based on the analysis of the consumption at BioBank, the dispenser has potential to save
approximately 800 kg of plastic every year in BioBank alone.
Andersson, L. (2017). Environmental Stewardship: The scientist’s role in laboratory
sustainability efforts, Lab Manager, 12(3), 24.-25.