Oxford Nanopore's contribution and commitment to environmental science is baked into the design of our technology. Years ago we made a decision to make the first portable, sequencing device — and we chose to make it accessible, not only in terms of pricing, but shipping it to any location and providing online support.
A thriving community of scientists use our portable sequencing devices in environmental applications. These include plant and animal biodiversity, the analysis of ocean or glacial microbiomes to understand the impact of climate change, or the protection of wildlife.
We continue to support these customers by developing devices, kits and analysis tools that support their work and technical support to enable success. Frequently their science is performed in the field rather than in labs – close to the need of environmental insights.
ORG.one: supporting rapid sequencing of critically endangered species, anywhere, by anyone.
Loss of biodiversity is an urgent problem. Genomics can help with existing conservation work, as well as securing the DNA sequence of critically endangered species for future knowledge, before further numbers are lost.
ORG.one is a pilot-stage project designed to support faster, more localised sequencing of critically endangered species, by enabling biologists to rapidly sequence those species close to the sample’s origin, using the latest ultra-long read approaches.
Data-rich, de novo whole genome assemblies will be enabled through the provision of consumable support that can be used with Oxford Nanopore sequencers, on the condition that the data generated will be openly shared with the scientific community.
Our own direct actions
Recycling and repurposing consumables – We encourage users of our technology to return their used flow cells back to us once they have reached the end of their useful life. This enables us to recycle some of the electronic components to reduce our environmental impact. In 2020 we began to provide shippable return ‘bins’ to make recycling even easier for our customers and to minimise transportation.
Click here to find out how you can participate and help us reach our flow cell recycling goal.
We have and are in the process of optimising other business operations too.
- Packaging: When we ship products that need to be kept at a constant temperature in transit; we use recycled boxes that are lined with sustainable, natural, wool-lined packaging.
- Our buildings: Our head office, manufacturing facility and a number of our other buildings are powered entirely by renewable energy sources. We aim to reduce, reuse and recycle all waste from our operations. Our offices and labs include recycling facilities for paper and other recyclable items. The Café at Oxford Nanopore’s headquarters does not offer single-use plastics, instead providing paper takeaway materials, larger condiment bottles and metal cutlery (with wooden cutlery for takeaway usage). Each employee is provided with a reusable coffee cup.
- Manufacturing processes: We are constantly reviewing and optimising our manufacturing processes and in particular our use of materials which have an environmental impact. To that aim we are developing new manufacturing processes which have less reliance on solvents, having achieved our first solvent free process in 2020.
- Cycle to work facilities: We actively participate in the ‘Cycle to work’ scheme, and provide our employees with secure facilities in which to store bikes during the work day and appropriate shower/changing facilities – reducing the number of people driving to work, and our CO2 emissions.
Keeping cool with wool
We wanted to ensure our packaging was as recyclable as possible.
Given the nature of our products, they need to be kept within a certain temperature range during distribution. Using a wool lining seemed like the perfect solution.
Wool is one of the most sustainable natural materials, being available in abundance as a by-product of rearing sheep and being fully biodegradable after it has fulfilled its purpose.
The Woolcool Insulated Box Set consists of a strong, robust outer cardboard box, containing two insulating Fleece Liners.
We encourage our customers to return used products in the same packaging, where we reuse or recycle the materials, creating a closed-loop system.
Putting our tech to use to achieve a greater understanding of threats to our environment…
Many members of the Nanopore Community are using nanopore technology to gain a greater understanding of our environment and the threats posed to us by climate change. Below are some examples: