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Life Science

TAG overview

In our Life Science business sector, we use data-driven methods to reduce the adverse impacts of our products on health and the environment. Our approach covers the entire product life cycle, from sourcing, manufacturing and packaging to use and end-of-life. At the same time, we aim to make our products more efficient and user-friendly. We work to reconcile these requirements at the beginning of product development and when re-engineering existing products.

Our approach to sustainable product design

We take a systematic approach to advancing sustainability through enhanced product design. In 2023, we continued to differentiate our sustainability portfolio through our Design for Sustainability framework.

To understand the potential environmental impacts of each product throughout its life cycle, we conduct streamlined product life cycle analyses. Their findings help us improve our products and are incorporated into subsequent development stages. Experts from Research and Development (R&D), Product Management, Quality, Procurement, and other departments collaborate throughout the process.

Design for Sustainability enables our product developers to analyze product impacts regarding materials used, energy and emissions, water, packaging, usability, innovation, circular economy, and supplier- and manufacturing-related issues. Our product developers use these sustainability criteria to assess product performance in each category across our broad and diverse portfolio. When developing new products, we aim to improve as many of these criteria scores possible.

To ensure that our product development teams target and track sustainability improvements in all new products, the framework provides data-driven deliverables at each phase of the development cycle, including a scorecard system that helps our development teams address and minimize negative product- and supply chain-related factors. The scorecard also helps us communicate our product sustainability data to customers more effectively. Products with meaningful sustainability improvements are identified as Greener Alternative Products in our Life Science portfolio.

As of December 2023, we offer over 2,500 Greener Alternative Products across our portfolio, a 34% increase compared with 2022. In the course of 2023, 637 products were recognized as Greener Alternative Products across our portfolio – 404 of which were new products evaluated using our Design for Sustainability framework.

Our approach to sustainable packaging

We work to deliver our products in packaging that is safe and easy for customers to handle, while also working to improve the sustainability characteristics of our material choices.

With a vast number of products in our Life Science portfolio – ranging from antibodies and lab chemicals to filtration materials, systems and instruments – we face a broad range of packaging challenges. Through our SMASH Packaging program for Life Science, we work to improve the sustainability characteristics of our packaging by optimizing resources, using more sustainable materials and designing for a circular economy.

SMASH Packaging is built upon four pillars:

  • Shrink: reduce the amount of packaging
  • Secure: achieve zero deforestation
  • Switch: improve plastic sustainability characteristics
  • Save: maximize recycling

While we did not reach all 2022 targets set in our inaugural SMASH Packaging plan, we were able to integrate systematic internal changes to strategically address packaging sustainability, notably to track and implement sustainability in new product packaging. As such, we have we have integrated our previous commitments and increased our ambition through SMASH Packaging 2.0, the next generation of packaging sustainability. In 2023, we raised the bar further for our packaging sustainability framework and developed a more systematic implementation plan for internal teams to implement packaging sustainability improvement projects. We aligned these guidelines directly with our new 2030 goals with a 2020 baseline to maximize the related sustainability improvements:

  • Reduce 10% of packaging weight per unit sales by 2030.
  • 100% of fiber packaging to be deforestation-free by 2030.
  • 100% of packaging to be designed following circular design principles by 2030.
Roles and responsibilities

The Life Science business sector works across its operational units to holistically embed sustainability in its operations, products and culture. The business sector’s Sustainability and Social Business Innovation team is responsible for setting KPIs and targets, planning and executing our strategies, and overseeing monitoring and reporting activities.

This structure helps us implement an ambitious and coordinated sustainability strategy to formalize our processes, governance and goals. In this way, we can embed the strategy in our business and become a sustainability multiplier for our customers.

Our commitment: Chemicals and product policies

In order to meet the product safety regulations relevant to our company, our Regulatory Affairs Group Policy details Group-wide processes for managing and implementing product safety, including the necessary management structures.

Wide range of solutions

Bio-based solvents

Switching to bio-based solvents, such as our alternative, greener solvent Cyrene™ and Cyrene™ blends, helps our customers reduce their carbon footprint. We are a member of the EU Horizon 2020 project, ReSolute, which began constructing a new Cyrene™ production facility in France in 2021. The site is scheduled to open in 2025 and will produce 1,000 metric tons of Cyrene annually to help us meet the growing demand for greener solvents. We will continue to add new bio-based solvents to our portfolio in 2024 – not only for our customers but also for our own internal applications in manufacturing. In 2023, our diverse portfolio of bio-based solvents helped customers avoid over 50 metric tons CO2e.

Green chemistry evaluator tool

Our proprietary, web-based tool, DOZN™, enables us to evaluate various products and/or processes to identify opportunities for sustainability improvements and provide transparency to our customers through the “Green Scores” calculated in the tool. DOZN™ industrializes the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, a previously theoretical framework, and rates products in three stewardship categories, namely “Improved resource use”, “Increased energy efficiency”, and “Reduced human and environmental hazards”. DOZN™ 2.0 is the tool’s external interface and is free for anyone to use, enabling both our customers and other scientists to make more environmentally sustainable choices in their development processes.

In 2023, we counted nearly 2,200 users of DOZN™ from 78 countries and DOZN™ was cited in 87 academic papers. In addition, as of the end of 2023, DOZN™ had been integrated into 15 university curricula through partnerships with universities in Canada, France, Germany, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These partnerships apply the DOZN™ tool in both virtual and in-lab chemistry curricula. Using DOZN™ in an academic setting yields many benefits. Firstly, it increases access to Green Chemistry and the tangibility of its principles for the future scientists entering the workforce. Secondly, it provides a practical opportunity to calculate scores for chemical products and processes and reinforces learning while highlighting the importance of sustainability to future scientists.

Expanding circular recycling

We have continued expanding the biopharma recycling program we kicked off in 2015, in which single-use plastic product waste is collected from biopharmaceutical manufacturing operations and recycled into plastic lumber. This material can be used in many industries, such as landscaping, transportation and marine construction. The program now serves 23 major biopharma manufacturing customers. Since its launch in 2015, it has recycled approximately 11,045 metric tons of plastic waste. This program continues to expand throughout the United States while simultaneously exploring new options and recycling technologies in other regions, such as Europe. By assessing advanced recycling technologies and collaborating across multiple industries, we will develop innovative circular recycling programs.

In October 2022, we developed a strategy to increase the recycling rates of single-use plastics and the circularity of our Life Science products. Our approach relies on customer engagement and feedback to assess the types and volumes of plastics used. In 2023, we engaged with 72 customers and instructed them on how to conduct plastic waste assessments in their labs.

Based on insights gained from these assessments, our Product Recycling and Innovation team is developing solutions to address plastic waste in labs and facilitate transfers to specialized recyclers worldwide. Ultimately, we aspire to enable all high-quality plastics to be reintegrated into our Life Science supply chain to form an industry-wide recycling ecosystem.

More sustainability offerings for Process Solutions

In 2023, we launched two new Greener Alternative Products in our Process Solutions portfolio: Millistak+® HC and Millistak+® HC Pro Micro 20 clarification devices. These products significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic needed. By redesigning the shape of the devices, we reduced the amount of plastic used by 75%, resulting in 75% less related single-use plastic waste. The Millistak+® HC Pro Micro 20 device even provides improved scalability performance and can more accurately predict the size of process-scale depth filter installations required for full-scale cell culture harvest applications.

Embedding sustainability in our packaging

Within the scope of our SMASH Packaging strategy for more sustainable packaging, we are pursuing a number of projects for the Life Science business sector:

Packaging sustainability in product development

New product packaging is where we can achieve the greatest impact. For this reason, we have also integrated SMASH Packaging principles into our product development process under our Design for Sustainability framework.

In 2023, 65% of our new product development projects aligned with the sustainability standards in at least one of the four pillars of our SMASH Packaging strategy.

Shrink: How we minimize the amount of packaging

We seek eco-friendly alternatives for shipping our products safely, which is why we partnered with a biotech company a few years ago and jointly developed a more sustainable bulk packaging design for transporting our Millistak+® Pod Disposable Depth Filters. We also expanded this approach to a subset of our Durapore® and Millipore Express® filter cartridges. These products are dedicated to high-volume clients and deliver both environmental and economic benefits to our customers compared with traditional individual or multipack packaging.

For example, changing from a three-pack to the new bulk packaging for our ten-inch filter cartridges reduces the amount of corrugated cardboard required by 55%. This corresponds to a 49% decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the life cycle of these packaging materials. In addition, our customers spend approximately 50% less time unpacking, which reduces their labor costs. In 2023, these bulk packaging solutions saved around 50 metric tons of corrugated cardboard. We continue researching similar solutions for additional products.

Secure: How we’re moving towards zero deforestation

Deforestation is a significant driver of global warming and a threat to biodiversity worldwide. As a large proportion of our packaging contains wood-derived fibers, we aim to responsibly source wood and fiber-based packaging materials so that that we do not contribute to deforestation.

Each year, we assess the practices of our main suppliers and the characteristics of our packaging to monitor our progress toward our zero-deforestation goal. The evaluated suppliers represent the majority (98%) of our total direct spend on sourcing wood and fiber-based packaging. The assessments identify opportunities to further align packaging with our zero-deforestation standards, selecting packaging with sustainable forestry certifications or recycled materials.

As of December 2023, more than 70% of the packaging materials we source align with our zero-deforestation standards or are made from recycled materials.

Switch: How we substitute plastics

In the past, we used insulated containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) to ship our chemicals in glass bottles and our temperature-controlled products. While EPS provides good insulation and cushioning properties, it is a petroleum-based material that takes hundreds of years to decompose. As options for recycling EPS are limited, it is typically incinerated or sent to landfill.

Wherever possible, we are replacing EPS with molded components made of cellulose and recycled paper pulp. Our molded pulp components can be easily recycled with other paper materials and compacted together for storage and transport. We use molded pulp inserts to pack a variety of liter bottle configurations in shipping boxes, thereby replacing around three million EPS parts per year.

In 2023, we continued piloting our new greener coolers at one of our U.S. distribution centers to replace EPS in our cold-chain shipments. The greener cooler is made from renewable resources and is certified recyclable with corrugated materials. We conducted further investigation on our requirements and potential solutions for using a greener cooler in our European markets. In 2024, we aim to roll out these greener coolers to our major U.S. distribution centers. We also aim to begin implementing at some of our key European distribution centers for both wet and dry ice shipments.

Save: Enabling proper disposal of packaging

To help our customers correctly dispose of and recycle our product packaging, we have developed a catalog of identification codes for all our packaging materials. In 2023, we began offering specific recycling guidance for customers in Italy to facilitate the collection, reuse, recovery, and recycling of packaging materials. We also published disposal guidance for customers in other major markets including Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. We will continue developing country-specific guidance for each of our major markets globally.

The diversity of ecosystems, habitats and landscapes on earth, the diversity of species, and the genetic diversity within a biological species or population.
An evaluation tool for measuring, documenting and controlling activities using metrics.

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