The Silicon Review
Plastic waste is increasingly generated from medical laboratories and in educational centers, such as secondary schools or universities, at alarming rates around the world. To many people’s surprise, labs are one of the largest contributors of plastic waste due to the wide range of equipment and plastic consumables required to operate lifesaving testing, such as COVID-19 tests. As critical testing of all types continue to rise, plastic waste is dramatically spiking. Healthcare professionals warn that labs must quickly reduce plastic waste from the life science community to minimize the environmental impact and control rising lab costs.
There are various innovators working to come up with new methods to recycle lab plastic consumables and equipment around the world. Grenova, a growing company based in Richmond, Virginia, is the only company providing a way for labs to wash and reuse their pipette tips, one of the most commonly used plastic products for any laboratory. Launched in 2014, Grenova was created to address the sharp rise in single use plastic pipette tips by the laboratory and healthcare industry. Grenova’s goal is to help labs rethink their use of plastic pipette tips by providing high-quality waste reduction technology that makes it possible to quickly wash and sterilize pipette tips in large quantities for reuse. As a result, the company is lowering costs across the laboratory industry and reducing biohazard waste around the globe.
In conversation with, Ali Safavi, Founder and CEO of Grenova
Q. Describe your background and its contribution to your current work at Grenova.
Prior to founding Grenova, I worked as a clinical lab scientist and as an engineer for a lab automation company and was faced with single-use plastics all around me. In fact, in the lab, the entire workflow often begins with plastic use — specifically, pipette tips, or what I call the “straw of the lab and life sciences industry.” Pipette tips are used daily to transfer samples in the form of liquid from point-to-point to run the most important tests of our times. But the problem is that we often use these incredibly durable and important plastic tips only once before tossing them into the biohazard bin. This unsustainable practice contributes to a very large biohazard waste that harms our environment. The healthcare and life science industry is quietly contributing to plastic waste at a rate so high we could circle the earth more than ten times with all of the plastic pipette tips that have been disposed of in 2020 alone. But there’s a solution; we created Grenova as an easy, cost-effective, and safe way to reuse a lab’s most common plastic disposables by more than 10x.
Q. How can a lab wash plastic pipette tips efficiently in order to limit its biohazard waste while saving money?
It begins by revolutionizing the way labs think about and treat their most important resources, such as plastic pipette tips. As the only cleaning technology on the market, Grenova has created a portfolio of products to wash, sterilize, and dry pipette tips in a high throughput environment with ease. This means less spending on tips and more time resources spent on saving lives. As an example, Tipnovus™, our high throughput benchtop offering, is an automated device and robotic arm friendly and enables labs to quickly wash and sanitize pipette tips for reuse in large quantities at once. TipNovus enables laboratories to reuse plastic pipette tips numerous times, cutting associated consumable costs along the way. The unique method of wash and sanitation is safe for both the lab and the environment. We also offer the TipNovusMini™, an automated pipette tip washer that includes identical TipNovus cleaning and drying technology in a compact 1-rack system ideal for low throughput labs. The TipNovusMini has a considerable throughput, small footprint, and is capable of integration with most automated liquid handling robots. In addition, we offer the TipLumis™ — a HEPA-filtered, temperature-controlled storage cabinet that is used to expedite the drying process within a clean environment and help with the logistics and workflow processes for washing and reusing pipette tips in the labs. Our team loves nothing more than working with labs to design the perfect process tailored to every individual laboratory’s workflow.
Q. How has COVID-19 impacted the lab industry and its use of pipette tips?
In March, Grenova cautioned the healthcare and life science community about the dwindling supply of lab consumables, such as pipette tips, combined with high demand due to COVID-19 testing. Today this prediction is a reality and a rising crisis, as labs around the globe face severe shortages of their most important resources. With lab suppliers now sending out-of-stock notifications and pipette tip orders backed up until next year, now is the most important time to pause and listen to this message yet again. In it, you will hear an easy solution: wash and reuse! We can stop this shortage together. Simply put, “Out of Stock” is not an option in the lab industry. Here, it’s more than an inconvenience, its life-altering. The life sciences and healthcare community can’t afford to have empty shelves and limited supplies. We must act smarter and faster to avoid supply shortages that will delay COVID-19 testing and other important diagnostics.
Q. What milestones has Grenova achieved that proves its innovation is impacting the Life Sciences community and beyond?
Grenova has proven that it’s time for the entire life sciences and healthcare industry to rethink laboratory waste. It is now entirely possible to safely wash and reuse pipette tips, which shifts the conversation from a nice-to-have option in the lab to a must-have solution. As more and more labs implement Grenova inside their facilities, it has become clear throughout the industry that washing and reusing plastic pipette tips are both smart for their business, as proven by the ability to reduce pipette spending up to 90%, and good for the environment. As a result, labs using Grenova’s product line have kept over 1,250,000 lbs. of plastic from ending up in landfills while saving the industry over $35M on pipette tip spending. Best of all, the labs who are saving this money are now reinvesting their funds into expansion and improvements in their daily operations.
Q. What does the future hold for Grenova?
The future must move toward with a more sustainable reuse mindset, not for Grenova but for all mankind’s benefit. We simply can’t afford single-use practices like discarding pipette tips that add to biohazard waste around the world. By washing and reusing plastic pipette tips, we will not only better protect the environment, but we’ll also protect the tools required in labs to fight pandemics. Reusing pipette tips allows us to control lab supplies, costs, inventory, and the supply chain so that labs around the world can fight disease and become self-sustained.
Meet the leader behind the success of Grenova
Ali Safavi, Founder and CEO of Grenova, is on a mission to enable laboratories around the world to become sustainable and waste-free. Ali founded Grenova, which is short for Green Innovation, shortly after graduating from college using firsthand experience; he gained working in the lab industry. Today, his award-winning company has created the only technology solution in the industry that enables life sciences and healthcare laboratories to reduce their plastic consumables cost and biohazard waste by over 90%. As a result of his work, Grenova has eliminated over 545,000,000 pipette tips, equivalent to over 1,250,000 lbs. of plastic that would have otherwise ended up in landfills as biohazard waste. In addition, Grenova has helped the industry save over $35M by washing and sterilizing pipette tips. Ali’s ultimate vision is to implement an automated cleaning technology device in every lab across the globe to safely clean and sterilize all of the used plastic consumables from each lab’s daily operation and return them back to the lab for reuse over and over again without any compromise on quality and performance.