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Supplies & Consumables

Factors to consider when choosing supplies and consumables for your laboratory

by Lab Manager
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Supplies and consumables are all the stuff the lab needs to execute its scientific work. They are a hugely diverse set of materials, ranging from pipette tips to specialty gases. Supplies and consumables are often paper, plastic, or glass-based materials, or chemicals that are used during experiments. Once the experiment is complete, they are either incorporated into the experimental products or disposed of through the lab’s waste stream. Many instruments have specific requirements for supplies and consumables to be compatible with how the experiments are conducted. For a list of laboratory supplies and consumables manufacturers, see our online directory:

8 Questions to Ask When Buying Supplies and Consumables:

  1. What exactly is needed?
  2. How much is needed?
  3. What alternatives are there?
  4. Who else can source the materials?
  5. How much will it cost?
  6. Should you buy in bulk at a lower price and then store the rest?
  7. Should you buy only what you need now and rapidly re-order?
  8. How will you dispose of these materials after the experiments are complete?

Purchasing Tip

The recent COVID-19 pandemic created havoc in supplies and consumables supply lines. These materials often go unnoticed until, for some reason, they aren’t present when needed. It taught us to arrange for two or three different suppliers for key materials to ensure the lab could continue to function if sourcing issues occurred for key supplies and consumables. It is also helpful to have pre-approved procedures or online portals to speed up purchasing of key materials to prevent slowdowns or shutdowns of lab processes.

Sustainability Tip

Investigate alternative supplies and consumables that reduce packaging, are produced from recyclable or biodegradable components, and reduce the amount of waste produced by the lab. To learn more about sustainable and green practices for the lab, view the Lab Manager Sustainability Digital Summit on demand at