SB Research Weekly May 2, 2012   

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Sustainability in the Medical Equipment Industry

The medical equipment industry supplies hospitals and labs with everything from implantable defibrillators to wound management systems to instruments for laparoscopic surgery to hospital beds. Like many industries, it has made some good progress in implementing sustainable business practices but still has major opportunities to tackle. This is the gist of the latest Green Research industry sustainability benchmarking report, which looks at industry leaders Baxter International, BD, Boston Scientific, Covidien, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, St. Jude Medical, Stryker, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Zimmer Holdings. The study found that sustainability in the medical equipment and supplies industry focuses to an exceptional degree on waste management. While only a minority of firms in the industry set public, quantitative sustainability goals, more of those goals are focused on waste management than on any other objective, more even than reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which tops the list in most other industries.

The study finds that the public sustainability goals companies in this industry have set for themselves, whether related to waste or to other issues, are focused almost entirely on internal operations. Eighty-seven percent by count deal with operations, while just four percent deal with packaging and four percent are supply-chain focused. Baxter’s 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions footprint shows why this represents a lost opportunity. By Baxter’s calculation, its operations account for just 24 percent of its global carbon footprint; its supply chain accounts for nearly 38 percent. As companies’ sustainability programs mature, they must tackle impacts up and down the value chain, from the supply chain to impacts in product use. Baxter is the only company in our study that includes sustainability goals focused on areas outside of operations, including packaging reduction, green procurement and watershed protection.


        Solution Providers:

    How to Tell Your Green Story
To realize their sustainability goals, companies need to enlist the support of their employees, their suppliers and even their customers. Because of this, smart corporations are tailoring the way they communicate about their sustainability programs. Talking about what they have achieved or what their goals are is insufficient. Companies also need to talk about what they need from employees, suppliers and customers in order to succeed.
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    How to Put Consumers on a Carbon Diet
The Coke/Carbon Trust study set out to assess London-based consumers’ understanding and attitudes about the carbon impact of their lifestyle activities, and to test the idea of a daily carbon allowance, analogous to the daily nutritional allowance that is very familiar to consumers. The study found that consumers reacted positively to the concept of a daily carbon allowance and many participants expressed a preference for seeing carbon allowance information on product packaging, with additional information accessible online.
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This work is licensed under a CreativeCommons License. Copyright Sustainable Life Media Inc. 2011