The Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) has reduced its environmental impact even more. After more than a year of audits, the majority of ILVO’s accredited labs have met the criteria for the very strict, externally-monitored ISO enivironmental certification ISO14001. By doing so ILVO has reached the top of the environmentally-friendly scientific institutions.
This ISO certification is rare, especially for research labs. Only two of the labs recognised by the Belgian FAVV (federal government organisation for safety of the food chain) have this exclusive environmental certification. In the entire Government of Flanders, only four entities have the ISO 14001 certificate. This additional environmental effort was spurred by the FAVV’s requirement that all its labs eventually get this certificate. ILVO is one of the first to achieve this goal; the final deadline is not until 2017.
An integrated environmental approach
ILVO has had an environmentally-conscious policy for years as seen by choosing natural gas instead of mazout for heating and strict procedures for handling environmentally-sensitive laboratory waste products. The quality systems already in place at ILVO already have certain environmental measures in place, thus adding this new ISO certification was efficient, if not effortless.
Hard work and spontaneous staff initiatives
For all of the related labs, analyses and services, ILVO needed to write a thorough environmental impact statement from receipt of the sample to using reagents and equipment, handling waste, and forseeable maintenance activities. Each activity received a typology, a frequence measurement, a risk analysis and a description of environmental impact in case of calamity. Furthermore, a priority list needed to be written with areas needing improvement in the future. Correct implementation of these procedures in practice is also fully documented.
ILVO staff have observed how the working process around the ISO14001 certification have raised staff consciousness about the environmental impact. On the to-do list for 2015 is better insulation of the ILVO buildings, buying more environmentally-friendly cooling fluids, another phase of improvement of the wastewater treatment, and optimizing storage of dangerous lab waste. Several spontaneous intiatives have also started, such as returning blank cardboard boxes back to the company for reuse.
Greet Riebbels, ILVO Communication department, Greet.Riebbels@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, +32 486 26 00 14
Koen De Reu, ILVO ISO14001-team, Koen.Dereu@ilvo.vlaanderen.be, tel. +32 9 272 30 43