Sustainability in the Drosophila Research Lab.

We’re lucky at Bournemouth Uni to run a Fruit Fly research facility which allows us to study cardiovascular disease and other important biological processes. We curate a large number of transgenic fly lines in small, plastic ‘fly vials’ which legislation requires us to incinerate after they’ve been used. Like many labs, we’ve held on to a dogma that vials can only be used once – but recently we and others challenged that dogma and started thinking about recycling.

We’re well placed at BU to adopt new practices and have the resources to do so. Accordingly, we initiated a pilot scheme to see if vials could be cleaned and re-used to propagate healthy flies, whilst still meeting the required legislation. This initially focused on small batches of 10-20 vials, which soon led to the development of a protocol for about 100 vials in one recycling session (about 25% of what we use a month). We’re now well on track to routinely recycle about 75% of what we use per month, which is both economically and environmentally far more sustainable that previous practices.

It’s a small, yet very satisfying, step in the right direction and something we can be proud of developing at BU.