Join the carbon future and remanufacture your used lab consumables into the next generation of lab products
The research industry uses over 12 billion pounds of single-use lab plastics each year, or roughly 8 pounds per scientist, per day. Your lab can help reduce the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels by using closed-loop lab products made from remanufactured lab plastics. Close the loop by restocking your lab with remanufactured consumables, so that you can achieve your sustainability goals without disrupting your workflow.
Highlights from the webinar:
- Why it is critical to our environment for biotech and healthcare to decarbonize
- How managing plastic waste is key to decarbonization
- The state of the industry today
- Challenges with downcycling
- Circular solutions for low-carbon labs
Can our environment afford for you to not be concerned about your lab’s single-use plastic waste?
Download this on-demand webinar to learn more about sustainable lab consumables, courtesy of Polycarbin.
Thank you for joining us on this dreary, rainy Friday or Thursday for those of us here in Richmond. My name is Karen Trumbo, and I am the Vice President of Operations here at Virginia bio, and so happy to be able to put on today's webinar. Today we have James O'Brien with polycarbon. He's gonna tell us a little bit all about what they are doing to close the loop solution for scientific plastics. Any of you all who have ever worked in a lab knows that we use a lot of disposables. And James and his company are going to try and change that. So without any further ado, James, I will hand it over you to begin the presentation.
Awesome. Thank you, Karen. And thank you to the Virginia bio community for welcoming polycarbon here to talk to you about what we're doing to partner with scientists to decarbonize this, this wildly innovative industry. Can you see my screen, I'm just confirming that we're all good to go. Awesome. So once again, my name is James O'Brien, I'm the CEO of polycarbon. And we're on a mission to create a more sustainable and efficient Life Science supply chain. So if you've operated at the benchtop, or even in a bio manufacturing facility, you know that our industry is completely dependent upon single use scientific plastics. And unfortunately, that comes at a great toll to our environment, planet, and our supply chain. So biotech and healthcare, much like many other industries is under pressure to decarbonize. Every year, we're producing about 200 million tonnes of co2 from global biotech and pharma. When you double click into where this carbon intensity is actually coming from 40% of those carbon emissions are actually attributable to the procured goods being plastic mostly, and services that we utilized within our operations.
All of the public companies, well, many of the major public companies, biopharma companies, healthcare companies have made public commitments to carbon neutrality, and unfortunately, only 4% of them are on track to meet the 2030 climate goals that they have outlined. So plastic, which is a large part of what we procure and utilize within our operations at the benchtop. And with our main manufacturing facilities, is embodied carbon. It is made from hydrocarbons that are from and dry from fossil fuels. So managing plastic waste is pivotal to the pathway to decarbonisation. So when you look at the scope of this problem today, beyond what's just happening at your benchtop, about 12 billion pounds of really valuable biomedical plastic is produced globally, every year.
All of that material is mostly single use, and virtually 100% of that is unfortunately burned or buried after a single use, you know, what frustrated us as previous operators at the benchtop, as people that left medical school to launch this company, was that 0% of this plastic is currently circularize. This despite the fact that it is so valuable. With the increase in prevalence of laboratory automation, the rate of innovation has rapidly rapidly increased, but so has the plastic burden, and the carbon intensity of our supply chain, making it even more pivotal to address these problems today. So we get excited about the fact that we see really, really large plastic stream that has inherent value as a raw feedstock to re manufacture new products. And when you look at the laboratory plastic waste, it's actually really homogenous and uniquely suited for recycling.
Because of that. I'm not gonna break down the individual polymer types for you here. But when you look at a laboratory, it is actually quite consistent. And because of automation, it makes it a valuable material stream to target to recycle and to utilize in a closed loop supply chain. When you double click into where within the laboratory, we're producing these plastics, what's quite unique is that individual plastic pipes can be localized to specific workflows. So for example, if you're working at the benchtop that's oftentimes a pretty man pretty intensive manual pipetting work environment that produces a polypropylene abundant material stream. Similarly with qPCR and flow, prevalent polypropylene plastics. And when you look at tissue culture, by contrast, it is saturated a high concentration area with general purpose polystyrene.
The real point here is that not only do we have a really large ever growing plastic stream within the life science and biopharma industry, the material stream is homogenous, making it really convenient for targeting for recycling. And there are specific workflows that make it even easier to drive value from this. Unfortunately, today, scientists, companies have not been offered many viable solutions for managing plastic and getting on track for decarbonisation. Many solutions that have that have came before polycarbon here today have emphasized the importance of down cycling, and I can review what that is in a bit but Let's just pay attention to this picture here on the right, that was a decommission facility in the state of Kansas, Kentucky that was taking in decontaminated laboratory plastics and attempting to down cycle into paint buckets that would be utilized within construction.
The problem with down cycling unfortunately, as a business model, and our preventative approach is that it's not viable due to market volatility when oil bullet goes below $50 a barrel, that off take for your plastic is no longer there. It also has a reduced carbon benefit. And we at polycarbon see this as a fundamental missed opportunity to maximize the value of this plastic stream and to turn it back into value added products for the scientific industry to make your supply chains more sustainable and more efficient. So when we're looking at plastic and how we manage it, oftentimes words are assigned to it and used pretty loosely. So I just want to take a step back and review some pretty common terminology here. Recycling is the process by which we capture plastic and turn it into a new product, but it's oftentimes in a completely different industry.
So imagine recycling your milk jug and having it turned into a shampoo bottle. By contrast, down cycling, which is the mainstay of any solution for laboratory plastics in the market today is the process by which you capture plastic and turn it into a product that cannot or will not be recycled again. So it is reused one time. And this is the complete opposite of a circular economy and a closed loop solution. Making plastic lumber from very valuable laboratory plastics that can be circularized is an example of down cycling because obviously that plastic lumber is not going to be recycled or captured again.
So we're operating in an industry right now where scientists like yourselves not only want sustainable products to utilize that potential top, but they want sustainable services as well. 90% of scientists we found are concerned about the environmental impact of their work, they must work in those high throughput laboratories. They've identified that plastic is the predominant material stream, and almost all of your colleagues today are willing to buy green products, recognizing that that purchasing decision is key on the pathway to decarbonizing and decreasing the carbon footprint of this industry. So polycarbon we have scaled a circular economy for life science and health care, single use scientific plastics. And it's the way that we're partnering with organizations domestically and abroad to help decarbonize your operations and tackle that carbon intensity.
This illustration right here really points out the difference between what has been done historically in the industry, and what we're working with fantastic innovative organizations today to do when you buy a laboratory plastic consumable like a pipette tip, a conical tube, a micro centrifuge tube, you're supporting a supply chain that takes fossil fuels out of the ground to manufacture new products, you use it one time, and you discard it immediately after that creates a really fragile supply chain, and a high carbon intensity work environment.
What we're doing at polycarbon is we're focused on closing the loop, capturing that really value plant valuable plastic remanufacturing it into new products to help you all decrease the carbon footprint of your procurement and your operations. So what do I mean by circular economy? And how does that impact the carbon footprint of your organization. When you buy single use plastic consumables and use it one time, you are potentiate in your carbon impact by procuring products that are only native 100%, fossil fuels and Virgin resin. If you're one of those more progressive organizations that already engaged in down cycling programs, you're on the right path. But unfortunately, you're only benefiting from a single carbon footprint reduction.
By recycling that into a lower quality product that can't be recovered again, what polycarbon has launched is a platform for managing these plastics from end to end, whereby we're extending the useful life cycle of your plastics, turning it back into laboratory consumables that provide you all with business continuity, and ultimately continue to provide you all that carbon footprint reduction over time by not only recycling your consumables, but providing you the option to buy more sustainably by the only line of circular economy closed loop laboratory products. So at polycarbon, we are your lab partner in many ways, and we are the only manufacturer of closed loop low carbon laboratory products that are helping you decarbonize procurement and your operations. How does our platform work?
Now there are three parts here and we've scaled this closed loop solution for single use scientific plastics. The first is diversion. We work with your organization through a number of recycling services to divert your high value laboratory products at the point of disposal. That material enters our supply chain. We track every pound of plastic from the point of disposal and until product remanufacturing to quantify the impact of your organization and the carbon emission reduction you're experiencing through closed loop recycling. On the back end And this is the the key to a circular economy. We re manufacture, high performance low carbon laboratory products that you all can utilize at the benchtop. And scientists are innovating today with these both domestically and abroad.
So a bit more about our recycling solutions, we've launched a mail back program to capture probably the most carbon intensive and the most ubiquitous ubiquitous plastic within the life science and healthcare industry, which is pipette tip boxes. Unlike many other analogous programs out there, there are two main differentiators here. Number one, that plastic is redirected right back into the scientific supply chain to re manufacture new consumables that have relevance to your industry. We quantify your impact through our data platform, our carbon counting platform, and we accept any brand of pipette tip box this is not just for polycarbon plastic, we will happily demonstrate extended producer responsibility for this entire industry.
In the coming weeks we'll be launching a mailbag program for clear and color rigid plastics, non contaminated rigid plastics generated at your benchtop to provide that exact same solution where those plastics will be shipped back to us put back into our supply chain to re manufacture these consumables. And probably the biggest part of our business today is onsite custom services where we partner with larger organizations select organizations that have indicated their interest in circular rising their carbon waste their single use scientific plastic waste stream, and tackling a more sustainable Waste Management Program.
This is an overly simplified view what our operations look like today, we've demonstrated that the best way to scale this impact to scale a closed loop solution for single use scientific plastics is by partnering with your existing waste hauling providers that are already carting your material away. So we partner with waste haulers, environmental service providers to capture this material on the front end, separating plastic and declaring color streams. And that materials carted away and enters our supply chain where it's reprocessed, purified, and we isolate recycled resin that is used to manufacture new consumables and complete portfolio of low carbon lab products that are available to you today. So just double clicking on one of our specific programs.
Our most common and the most popular today is our pipette tip box mailbag program. Once again, we accept any empty pipette tip box from any single brand. We provide you all with a prepaid shipping label to ship that back to us. That material enters our supply chain, and it's remanufactured into new products that we make available to any of our participating customers. Similar to our on site recycling services, you gain access to our carbon counting platform so you can track the impact of your work and the carbon emission reduction associated with your new innovative waste management strategies. So, at polycarbon, we're engineering the waste out of the life science supply chain. We're fundamentally reevaluating the way that products are manufactured today, we are making these products sustainably by being the only company that is using circular economy resin to manufacture laboratory consumables.
Most importantly, recognizing that a true closed loop solution requires intelligent manufacturing. We've designed these products for recyclability by removing unnecessary polymer heterogeneity to make sure that when you buy more intelligently when you buy lower carbon products, they're designed for recyclability, so that you can close the loop at the at the end of use. We have customers today that are not only recycling through polycarbon, but procuring through polycarbon. And what we've recognized that those customers are amplifying their positive impact by being stewards for the material at the end of life, and procuring the tackle probably the most carbon intensive part of their operation, which is buying these fossil fuel based products that are used once and thrown away.
So here's the closed loop collection of laboratory products. They are available as a third party procured product through all major distributors. They can also be procured directly from polycarbon. We've targeted the most common highest turnover laboratory products today that scientists are using, we produce 15 and 50 mil conical tubes, 1.5 mil microcentrifuge tubes, the entire suite of filtered pipette tips, as well as non filtered tips. All these products are manufactured to be DNase RNase pyrogen, free and they're sterile. In the coming weeks, we are launching an LTS compatible pipette tip line to meet the need that our biopharma partners have to ultimately retrofit or outfit their reign in pipettors. And we're pretty excited about that and what that will mean to scientists here at Virginia bio. So with that, I would love to pause there open open the webinar up to potentially some questions and once again, thank you so much for for taking the time today and making science more sustainable.
Thank you, James. And if you have any questions, please put them In the chat box, I do have a couple, but I will see if we have oh, there's one right there. They are asking for more insight regarding the clear and color mailbox service. What can I put in Nice?
Yeah. So this is not launched yet. But hopefully, you'll be one of the first customers to engage with this program when it is officially launched. That clear and color diversion is quite similar to what we do for our customers with on site services that are large volume generators. So what's going to go into these materials streams are non contaminated rigid plastics, many of our customers today have worked with polycarbon to minimize the amount of waste over classification that's pretty pervasive in the industry, and put non contaminated rigid, clear and colored plastics in there. So some of our customers are putting non contaminated pipette tips that are that have never touched any infectious agent. The color bin is being used for pipette tip boxes, similarly, caps of conical tubes, conical tubes that have only been utilized in for solvents, or aqueous solutions that are not hazardous. So on our website, at polycarbon.com/diversion, you can actually see a PDF that we use on our on site integrations to show the types of materials the greatest hits of plastic consumables, if you will, that we commonly accepted into our receptacles.
from a pricing perspective, how do the remanufactured sips from polycarbon compared to new virgin tips?
That's a great question. They're price competitive. And if you're interested in ultimately making that transition to more sustainable procurement, we'd be happy to put it out and meet you all where you are in terms of your pricing today. The way that we view this is we're hoping to inspire a shift in this industry with the way in which we view purchasing products and the carbon impact of them. And so our goal is to ultimately make consumables that you all can utilize consistently to continue the great work that you're doing at the benchtop
How do you decontaminate the yeast pipette tips?
Yeah, so give me one second, I was just reviewing the other questions in the chat. So when we are thinking about managing this plastic material stream, we're cognizant of the width of the laboratories that we're working with that are generating material stream. So for example, in the state of California, we have many, many synthetic biology companies that are operating in laboratories that are not producing materials that are that are infectious at all.
Historically, they've been over classifying it throwing it into wet red bag waste, we've had this great opportunity there to help them save money, declassified that material stream because it was unnecessarily being over classified and reduce the carbon intensity that existed for their pre existing decontamination technology that was kind of over fit for the waste management program. So a lot of the work that we do with our existing customers is to declassify materials that are unnecessarily going into red bag waste, and managing that as a municipal solid waste stream that can be recycled for customers that want to ratchet up the breadth and scope of plastics that we're managing.
We partner with environmental service providers that leverage regulated medical waste treatment strategies to basically treat the material decontaminate it oftentimes by autoclave technology and reuse that material on the back end. So a lot of states in which we operate in after decontamination by approved treatment technologies. Oftentimes autoclave they demonstrate lug six kill, that plastic is no longer treated as infectious material, it can be managed as a municipal solid waste, and the plastic can be recycled and circularized. From there. Right now though, we recognize the carbon intensity of decontamination and the cost burden that it has for our customer base. And so a lot of the work we do focuses on minimizing over classification and treating this material as it should be.
Great. The next question is what's your track feature? What are the main component components you can highlight?
Yeah, so for example, for our on site services, some of our largest waste generators that are producing 10s of 1000s of pounds a month, we utilize a unique QR code for that account. And when that material is picked up and processed, we attribute the weight and yield from reprocessing and recycling to that account, so that we can ultimately make available to you all through the carbon accounting platform, the percent material that was successfully circularized into product and the carbon footprint reduction that's associated with that service. So to answer your question, again, we associate weights of plastics and yield from our recycling process with specific accounts through that QR code. Using the mail back boxes very similarly, we know who sent it to us. Those boxes are weighed. We know what our yield is on the back end and we attribute get that data to you all through the carbon counting platform.
How many times can the plastic be recycled before the quality
becomes too bad? That's a great question. We're not creating a perpetual motion machine here when we collect material, reprocess it and isolate these circular economy recycled residence, we ultimately do batch QC testing on it and ensure that it's meeting the performance that your team requires and your High Performance Lab products. Jet we fortify on the back end with Virgin resin as necessary to meet those performance. So we have products that are 20%, circular economy resin weave products that are 85%. by weight, circular economy, resin, the degree of fortification ultimately is done to ensure continued performance. If you were to take a product and recycle it a polypropylene product, conventional wisdom is four times over and over, it would take four times for there to be considerable oxidation of that plastic so that it was visible, it was visibly impacting the performance of the material stream. So it's four times because our operations are sourcing plastic, we're oftentimes we're recycling another brands pipette tip box, there virgin plastic, and post consumer plastic is coming into our materials stream. And so we haven't struggled with accounts that are only using polycarbon products where we are not recycling anyone else's materials. Well.
Makes sense? So as someone who's worked in the lab, and on the sales side, how do you convince someone to use your product knowing they have to do something a little bit more on the back end to start and change their ways? A little bit? And if there's anything that we love, it's our pipette tips, and we are very picky about the ones we love. So how do you kind of help change those minds a little bit?
Yeah, that's a great question. So in that, you know, worked at the benchtop and worked in pretty plastic intensive workflows. I certainly appreciated that when when me and my co founder, Noah launched this company, I worked at in a metabolomics core facility that blew through pipette tips and microcentrifuge tubes to the problem was near and dear to my heart, we were very much so set over the last two years on building competitively priced products that are just as high performance.
So for example, our pipette tips are low retention, DNase, RNase, pyrogen, free and sterile. We want our scientists to feel as if they're utilizing a greener product that is just as high performing. And our customers today, you know, that continually buy from us are indicating that as well. But taking a step back in terms of the convincing perspective, the way that we view this is that for decades, you've not been provided options for more sustainable laboratory consumable purchasing options. And we wanted to bring this offering to scientists that recognize the carbon intensity of their workflow. In many ways, this is kind of voting with your dollars, when you choose to buy a product that is manufactured the same way it has been for decades, you're supporting a supply chain that is ultimately unsustainable and inefficient. And so I think this kind of references what we've all experienced probably over the last few years with the pandemic. Because these single use supply chains that are completely dependent upon fossil fuels have been destabilized by COVID. T
he scientists have suffered, you've you've dealt with increased lead times what we've built here, because it's based on a circular economy is a far more resilient, and sustainable supply chain that not only helps you all decarbonize by buying products that are have a lower carbon intensity. But it also provides you an opportunity to actually get the goods that you need in a timely fashion. So right now, our warehouse is stocked with inventory that can ship immediately, we have an entire suite of universal pipette tips in a month and a half, we're going to be looking at an entire warehouse filled with LTS compatible pipette tips that can serve our biotech customers. So this is all about working with an industry that really wants this change, and making sure that we are, you know, an incredible service provider that can meet their needs when they need it.
That's wonderful. I know. Folks love the rain in so if you can, make sure you have tips for that you'll be good. I don't see any more questions at this time. So I just want to give a big old thanks from Virginia bio. Thank you so much, James. And thank you all for attending today. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to myself and I will make sure you get put in touch with James and he can answer as the professional I won't pretend to be able to do so.