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Oxford Nanopore’s commitment to sustainability

Our strategy was founded on the principles of fairness and inclusiveness: making DNA and RNA sequencing technology available and affordable to anyone who wants to access biological information, anywhere. 

We want our technology to be accessible so that it can bring the widest benefits to society. This is especially necessary as we face increasing inequality in healthcare in society, as global challenges in food productivity and security mount, and as the consequences of climate change reach beyond the environment to include human health. 

Environmental impact

Oxford Nanopore's contribution to environmental science is baked into the design of our technology; years ago we made a decision to make the first portable, low cost sequencing device. A thriving community of scientists use our portable sequencing devices to perform biological analyses in the field; whether that is to understand the ocean microbiome or to fight wildlife crime. You can find lots of examples here.

A team of scientists took the MinION portable sequencer to the most extreme environment to understand more about the biology of the environment. 

We want to make sure that this impact is consistent in our own operations, making a commitment to continuous improvements in the management of our environmental impact and to the longer-term goal of developing the highest standards of sustainability. We work in partnership with others in our supply chain and in our customer community to promote protection of the environment, improve understanding of environmental issues and disseminate good practice.  

What we're doing ourselves:

  • Good 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, wool-lined packaging.  

  • Recycling and repurposing consumables:  We encourage customers to return Flow Cells — the consumable element of our technology — so we can recycle the electronic hardware. In 2020 we began to provide shippable return ‘bins’ to make recycling even easier for our customers and to minimise transportation. 

  • Better 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, with the aim to achieve our first solvent free process in 2020.   

  • Run good buildings: 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.   

Supporting the actions of others:

  • Foster the science:  Continue to ensure that our technology design supports scientists who are performing science in key areas of sustainability, whether environmental, food or human health. 

A large number of researchers using nanopore devices are doing so in environmental applications. These may 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 – frequently being performed in the field rather than in labs.  We also support the telling of these important stories through our materials, website and conference channels.  As we mature, we will aim to explore more ways in which we can specifically support environmental applications. 

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