MRC announces plans to achieve net zero by 2040

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The Medical Research Council (MRC) has today announced its environmental sustainability programme to achieve net zero by 2040, as part of the UKRI sustainability strategy, with a 50% reduction by 2030.

This comprehensive programme will focus on the MRC's science estate, laboratory operations, supply chain and horizon scanning and research in practical applications

These plans will include the Research Complex at Harwell, who is already contributing ideas, together with other MRC institutes, such as The Crick and MRC Harwell.

The MRC science estate enables scientists to undertake hugely complex work, which is often reliant on precise environmental conditions, such as:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • air changes.

Systems to manage these requirements are energy intensive and this workstream will de-carbonise our estate by reducing the use of natural resources.

This will improve the wellbeing of occupants, and increase biodiversity on our sites.

Scientific equipment uses a large amount of energy, with laboratory consumables such as single-use plastics and hazardous materials presenting most of MRC’s waste.

MRC-funded research teams are committed to reducing these environmental impacts by using alternative or recyclable materials wherever possible. This past year has already included the installation of solar panels on our roof.

With MRC institutes recently joining the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework membership, MRC’s sustainability will be further enhanced.

This will see annual projects funded targeting specific areas of improvement, such as:

  • the installation of automatic sash closers
  • exchanging single-use plastic pipettes with glass products
  • installing electric charging points.

These projects will be reviewed for effectiveness with lessons learned shared to with the wider community.

Broader engagement will be crucial to achieving net zero, and MRC will draw on the experience of the entire research community, continuously sharing knowledge to ensure impact and change.

Engagement plans include:

  • a workshop at Harwell’s Advance Training Centre to discuss laboratory operations sustainability, with industry representatives sharing knowledge
  • a conference for laboratory managers and estates professionals working for MRC partners and collaborators
  • direct engagement with MRC’s entire supply chain to ensure it is empowered to support this transition
  • direct engagement with our key suppliers to enable a reduce their carbon footprint together with NHS England.

Professor John Iredale, Interim Executive Chair of MRC, said:

While MRC research continues to be critical to understanding the links between health and the environment, our activity has its own on impact, this must be understood and addressed.

These plans make clear MRC’s commitment to ensuring all the activity it undertakes and funds is environmentally sustainable, and I look forward to working closely with our community and colleagues in UKRI to making them a reality.

Get involved

To ask questions or get involved with this programme, email

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