Earth Day 2023: Sustainability is in Our DNA
At Twist, sustainability is in our DNA.
Our unique DNA synthesis platform uses 99.8% less chemical reagents compared to legacy DNA manufacturing approaches that use a 96-well plate, generating significantly more chemical waste. Our customers can use our DNA to create sustainable alternatives by leveraging biology to replace toxic industrial processes, such as making materials out of natural proteins instead of plastics. We also have sustainability programs in place throughout our day-to-day operations.
We believe that being good stewards of the planet includes working to reduce our carbon footprint. As a key measurement of our progress, we’ve quantified the carbon footprint of creating a single gene using our silicon-chip based DNA manufacturing process, versus legacy 96-well plate-based DNA manufacturing. We discovered that plate-based approaches can emit up to 23 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per gene, while Twist processes emit a minuscule 36 grams of CO2e (0.036 kilograms) per gene1. By comparison, this is the equivalent to greenhouse gases emitted from driving a gasoline-powered car for 59 miles compared to 0.092 miles2. In our fiscal year 2022 we shipped about 558,000 genes to customers. By using our platform for manufacturing synthetic DNA to make those genes, we reduced emissions by about 12.8 million kilograms compared to what could have been emitted using plate-based approaches3. That’s the equivalent of driving around the circumference of the world more than 1,300 times, or the equivalent energy use per year of more than 1,600 homes2,3.
We began our single-use nitrile gloves recycling program with RightCycle™ by Kimberly-Clark Professional in January 2019. Since then, we have recycled 21,760 lbs of gloves. Some of these recycled gloves are used to make lawn furniture that you can find at some big chain retailers as well as park benches around the country.
Our recycling efforts go beyond gloves to include lab plastics like pipettes. By partnering with Polycarbin, we’ve recycled 7,622 lbs of lab plastics. Of that, 5,720 lbs have been circularized back into new lab products, creating a more sustainable circle economy in life sciences. The carbon savings from recycling with Polycarbin are the equivalent of 4,994.5 lbs of coal.
We’re not only focused on reducing waste in our labs, but also in the materials we use to ship our products. The outer cartons of our boxes are made with at least 50% recycled material and so are the chipboard folding cartons that we use. For products shipped to Europe, we use recyclable coolers that are made of a polyurethane blend.
As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, we joined the United Nations (UN) Global Compact. We’ve identified zero hunger as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that align with our mission to use synthetic DNA to redefine the future of sustainability, food security and healthcare. Using Twist synthetic DNA, our customers can engineer plants to be less reliant on fertilizer and to sustain extreme weather conditions, which could provide access to food sources. Another challenge is food waste. According to the UN, about one billion lbs of food go to waste each year. This Earth Day, we challenged employees to participate in the Zero Food Waste Challenge. Each day, we shared a new challenge to help reduce food waste, such as sticking to a grocery list when food shopping, storing foods properly, and freezing foods to help them last longer.
To learn more about our sustainability efforts visit: https://www.twistbioscience.com/company/esg?tab=environmental
- Calculated Twist internal data using Dr. Oligo benchmark January 2021
- Calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
- Twist internal data January 2021
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