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Interview with Katrijn Verbeek, Scientific Manager at Lavetan

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How Lavetan is bringing sustainability to the lab

Sustainability has been a major issue within Lavetan for many years. In 2022, Lavetan launched a charter, a three-year plan to progressively embed the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the company. So far, several goals have been achieved and plans developed for next year. An in-house Lavetan sustainability team has also been set up. Katrijn Verbeek, Scientific Manager at Lavetan, discusses the approach.

Sustainability action bundle

There have always been sporadic sustainability projects within Lavetan, says Katrijn. "We were looking for a framework to bring these actions together. We found it in 2021, when we stumbled upon the Voka Charter on Sustainable Business (VCDO). Voka stands for the Belgian employers' organization Vlaamse Ondernemers Kamers Alliantie." Voka drew up the program under the aegis of the UN, and it addresses all seventeen SDGs as well as becoming part of a company within three years." For us, this was the ideal time to step in, because it enabled us to do properly structured work on our sustainability policy," says Katrijn.

What we have achieved so far

The developments have come thick and fast over the past year. Several SDGs have already been checked off. Katrijn gives examples of sustainability actions within Lavetan. "For example, actions have been taken on lighting. We are making a systematic switch from fluorescent to LED lighting. This saves the entire electricity consumption of an average family every year. And there will be more to come, because we still have more than two hundred bulbs to replace. This will represent a saving of another 11,000 kilowatt hours."

Colleagues love the fact that they have the chance to play an active role in thinking about sustainability within the company.
Katrijn Verbeek

Katrijn: "In addition, we are examining our waste flows from the lab and looking at recycling opportunities. We have a bicycle lease system for employees. About 20 people are already participating. We monitor how our colleagues get to work. Since we started, there has been a 45 percent increase in bicycle registrations." Also, there are now solar panels on the roof of the lab, which generate 20 to 25 percent of the energy we use. Katrijn: "All in all, we are contributing to the environment and a healthy lifestyle."

Sustainability team

There is now also a sustainability team, a group of committed colleagues who meet every month and work on sustainability goals. "The cool thing is that they are colleagues from all levels of the organization, from management through to staff and lab technicians." Sustainability initiatives have been assigned to smaller groups. They work on them all year round. "At the monthly meeting, we discuss the progress and can also ask questions and share knowledge."

An example

What sort of things does the sustainability team consider?
Katrijn gives an example: "In the winter months, Tuesday is soup day. On Tuesdays we serve up soup with locally produced vegetables. We are now thinking about offering something similar in the other seasons. For example, cherries in the summer, and apples and pears in the autumn. We carefully note what fruits and vegetables are harvested when and respond accordingly. Everything fresh, local and healthy."

Plans for next year

Clear plans are in place for next year. Lavetan is taking a close look at its water usage and energy consumption. Katrijn: "In terms of water flows, we are figuring out what types of water we need, how pure it needs to be and what the possibilities are for reuse. In energy consumption, we are looking at our consumption profile, the peaks and troughs, idle consumption, energy-guzzling appliances and possible replacements."


The first year of the three-year plan is over. Katrijn feels that she can look back on it with satisfaction: "We are already saving a lot of energy and tens of thousands of labels, while paper has been banned from the company and fossil fuel mileage has been greatly reduced. Inspired by this, our approach to the future is governed by the motto: sustainable business."


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