Bas Tuenter and Eva Witlox run the startup Sustainables. They provide a service: cleaning laboratory disposables so we can reuse them.

This video was made in collaboration with ChemistryNL’s Startup Stage.

What kind of products do you wash?

’Plastic pipette tips of various sizes. In the future we also want to clean Petri dishes, pipettes, syringes and test tubes. We wanted to find a solution to the huge amount of waste a laboratory produces. We looked at recycling first, but reuse is many times more sustainable, so we went for it. But with reuse you have a much higher cleaning requirement. Pipette points were relatively easy to set up and in the meantime we can develop the other washing processes.’

How did you come up with this idea?

’I went to the climate summits in Katowice, Madrid and Glasgow with Radboud University . I met young people working on fantastic projects and I wanted to do the same. I started by eating less meat and reducing my own waste. During my Master’s internship, I went to a lab where they did a lot of cell culture. A huge amount of material was only used once and then thrown away. So I could have a bigger impact there than I did at home. There was just no service for sustainable use of lab material. They wanted to have one, but they didn’t have the space or the time - so I started providing it myself.’

What do you do on a daily basis?

’I work at both Sustainables and Mad Science - an after-school science and technology class. There I introduce concepts such as atoms to primary school children. At Sustainables we are setting up a service. We get into contact with different labs, take stock of their waste and investigate their questions and concerns about our service. In doing so, we work out how we can guarantee quality.’