Proven Tools Driving Innovative Results
Innovation is sometimes thought of as new tools and technologies never before used, but innovation can also come from using proven tools in new and better ways, delivering greater results with less risk and cost. We approach environmental sustainability from this dual perspective, looking for new tools to achieve higher levels of performance, while also re-inventing proven tools to deliver a new level of performance.
Energy efficiency, water use and packaging, are fundamental requirements of the medical device industry, and are significant environmental aspects from a sustainability perspective.
In each of the examples below, a fresh look at an existing process produced an innovative result with a "triple win" outcome: less impact to the environment, a healthier planet for people, and reduced costs for Boston Scientific.
In 2014 we achieved our 5-year goal of certifying all of our major operating sites to the ISO 14001:2004 standard. In addition, the company’s global headquarters located in Marlborough, MA was also certified to the standard in 2014.
As part of their environmental management systems, each site is tasked with establishing goals and targets to reduce their overall environmental impacts in those areas found to be significant. The goals and targets for improvement reflected the best opportunities at each site. Many of the targets were monetized as part of the "triple win" of a good sustainability program.
With both the environmental and financial rewards clearly identified, projects have been completed on time, and the successes have been measured and rewarded. Here are some examples of how this has delivered results across the company.
At many of our operating sites, there is an ongoing need for both electricity and heat throughout the year. Recognizing that most conventional methods of generating electricity and hot water or steam involve inefficiency from wasted heat, we evaluated more innovative technologies that produce electricity, and decided to install CHPs, which generate electricity and hot water using the same energy.
In a conventional electrical generator, fossil fuel is burned to power a turbine and produce electricity, but the heat generated in the process is discharged with the exhaust gas as a waste. With our CHPs, natural gas is used to power a turbine and generate electricity, but the associated heat energy is recovered and used to make hot water.
The results are remarkable from both a cost and environmental perspective, in essence halving greenhouse gas emissions and costs. CHPs are now operating at three of our locations: Galway, Ireland, Clonmel, Ireland and Marlborough, MA. These systems are capable of providing up to 60% of a site's electrical needs, and 90% of its heating needs.
At sites where water use is significant, we have reduced consumption. At our Spencer, IN site, we determined that we could replace a conventional water-cooled chiller system with an air-cooled system. The results were significant: overall water use has reduced 67% with 6 million gallons of water saved each year.
At the Cork, Ireland facility, a waste water stream from the plant's water purification system has been re-routed from discharge to the sewer to use for toilets, saving 1.4 million gallons of water per year.
At the Coyol, Costa Rica facility, all of our waste water is treated and used to irrigate the campus, eliminating the need to pump water from the site well for irrigation.
At the Dorado, Puerto Rico facility, we determined that packing materials for final packaging of its product provided an opportunity for environmental improvement.
After reviewing several different technologies for product packaging, without reducing the effectiveness of the packaging material and ensuring that product quality was maintained, we replaced convention corrugated paper packing materials with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) pouches.
This resulted in using less material for packaging, and lower shipping weights. As a further sustainability measure, we specified that the LDPE material be biodegradable, to minimize long term environmental impacts.