LEAF in the Netherlands: Adopting Sustainability in our Laboratories
In the Netherlands, a grassroots initiative was started in early 2021 under the name Green Labs Netherlands (Green Labs NL). Green Labs NL is a non-governmental organisation that aims to build a sustainable science network in the Netherlands through resource sharing, community building and project instigation. As part of this effort, in September 2021 Green Labs NL launched the ‘LEAF in NL’ pilot, a project to encourage sustainable laboratory practices in Dutch academia. With seed funding from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the pilot aimed to assess the usability and feasibility of the LEAF sustainable lab programme in Dutch scientific research, and was split into 2 phases. Phase 1, which ran from September 2021 to December 2021, saw the initial rollout of LEAF in 4 public research organisations, with the focus on getting the programme accepted and running in each of them. To this end, best practice guides for starting a green team or initiating a sustainable lab programme were created as publicly available resources, and barriers and facilitators were assessed and summarised in a report produced for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Phase 2, which ran from January 2022 to October 2022, aimed to further expand the LEAF sustainable lab programme to more organisations in Dutch research. Additionally, phase 2 aimed to follow the progress of the 4 initial organisations that implemented LEAF in phase 1, as well as to assess the programme’s impact in quantifiable terms of CO₂ emissions diverted and financial savings following the uptake of sustainable practices in the lab.