BGS news

BGS laboratories become first in UKRI to receive gold LEAF accreditation

BGS achieved gold certification in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation in March 2023.

Three white women standing in front of a grey slate wall. Nicola on the left is wearing a black top with white flowers; she has long brown hair and glasses. Leah in the middle has long dark hair and is wearing an orange floral top. Angela on the right has bobbed blonde hair and is wearing glasses and a black jumper.
Nicola Atkinson, Leah Crosby and Angela Lamb, who led the BGS initiative to achieve the gold LEAF accreditation. BGS © UKRI.

On a global scale, laboratories are responsible for around two per cent of global plastic waste (Urbina et al., 2015) and use three to ten times more energy than a typical office. The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) is an initiative developed by University College London (UCL) and is a standard awarded to laboratories that can successfully demonstrate practical steps towards improved efficiency and sustainability.

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BGS is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and this involves participation across the whole organisation. We identified LEAF as a driving tool to be able to do this within our laboratories; making them more sustainable is a commitment within the overarching BGS Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which identified the labs as an energy-intensive area. It has allowed us to drive behavioural change and provide awareness to continue to reduce our environmental impacts.

Leah Crosby, BGS Environmental and Sustainability Advisor.

The LEAF accreditation

LEAF consists of three levels — bronze, silver and gold — all of which contain actions that laboratory users can take to improve sustainability, such as reducing waste and energy use, recycling more and improving laboratory practices so laboratories can operate in an increasingly sustainable way.

LEAF logo
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LEAF logo courtesy of University College London.


Bronze accreditation, which BGS achieved in 2021, involves raising awareness of the actions people can take, for example switching off laboratory equipment when it is not in use. The silver award, which BGS received in 2022, is awarded for advancing procedures and policies and following best practice in laboratory sustainability. The new gold award, which BGS is the first in UKRI to receive, has been given following implementation of the LEAF principles across thirteen laboratory groups from our Keyworth and Wallingford sites.

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The gold accreditation included embedding sustainability in all aspects of our laboratories and expanding the LEAF principles across the office spaces shared by the labs. Gold LEAF accreditation has enabled us to promote a wider sustainability culture in BGS and a vehicle to share good practise across our laboratories and with our stakeholders.

Angela Lamb, BGS Stable Isotope Research Scientist.

Following the framework’s principles ensures that these practices, such as structural changes in our data storage and laboratory management systems, will continue to be effective in the long term.

A white man wearing white PPE, glasses and purple nitrile gloves uses a long pipette to transfer liquid into a small bottle
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Instead of throwing away single-use nitrile gloves — one lab group alone used over 15 000 in one year — we now recycle them. We also employ ‘greener’ practices around solvent use, such as accelerated solvent extraction in the organic geochemistry lab to reduce the amount of solvents we use.

Nicola Atkinson, BGS Isotope Support Scientist.


Laboratory staff collaborated and worked with other areas in BGS, including the estates and facilities team, BGS Informatics and the workshops, to achieve the gold accreditation and embed sustainability in all ways of working within our labs.

More information

Urbina, M, Watts, A, and Reardon, E. 2015. Labs should cut plastic waste tooNature, Vol. 528, 479. DOI:

About the author

Lina Hannaford
Lina Hannaford

BGS Editor

BGS Keyworth
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