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The science is clear: Our planet is warming quickly with grave and global consequences, requiring bold action, transparency, and accountability. To address the climate crisis, Medtronic has set an ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by fiscal year (FY) 2045 across its operations and value chain (scopes 1, 2, and 3). Achieving net zero carbon emissions will be no easy feat, but the environmental and health benefits justify the effort.
Caring for our planet makes good business sense, meets the expectations of our employees, and is the right thing to do. By embracing sustainability, companies create healthier workplaces, plan thoughtful development, improve risk management, and save costs. Over the past two years, we reduced our operational carbon emissions intensity 35% compared to a FY20 baseline and on track to meet our goal of 50% by FY25. We also set a goal of becoming carbon neutral in our operations by FY30.
Now, we’re taking even bolder action to combat climate change by setting a goal to reduce carbon emissions to net zero in our operations, supply chain, and logistics by FY2045. To achieve the ambition, we created a Decarbonization Roadmap and will pursue setting carbon emission reduction targets across scopes 1, 2, and 3 through the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) — a multi-year process which provides companies a clearly defined path to reduce emissions aligned with the Paris Agreement.
One of the most powerful ways we can help combat climate change is by increasing the use of clean energy, either by producing our own energy or purchasing clean energy from local power providers. Fuel cell technology now generates cleaner energy at several of our facilities. By converting natural gas and air into electrical energy without combustion, fuel cells are cleaner than traditional gas or diesel engines. Each year we continually increase our renewable footprint, and as of FY22, more than 15% of our total energy use is renewable. Going forward, we plan to increase our investments in hydroelectricity, solar, wind, and geothermal energy whenever possible. One way we will do this is by purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are market instruments guaranteeing clean energy has been generated on our behalf and sent to the electrical grid. In addition, we are pursuing virtual power purchase agreements to contribute an amount of clean energy to the grid equal to or greater than the power we consume globally.
Likewise, leading sustainably also means building and operating green. The U.S. Green Building Council recently awarded our manufacturing facility in Alajuela, Costa Rica, a LEED operations and maintenance (O+M) platinum certification — a globally recognized symbol in sustainability achievement. The facility is the first Medtronic manufacturing site in Latin America to earn the prestigious LEED certification, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power, merges the production of usable heat and electricity into a single process that can substantially reduce carbon emissions and energy costs. Recently, we installed a new cogeneration unit at our Mirandola, Italy, facility. The new unit will produce about 7.5 million kilowatt-hours per year, reducing the facility’s reliance on the local power grid and shrinking the site´s carbon footprint by more than 30%.
We recently installed two fuel cells at our North Haven, Connecticut, facility, where we manufacture surgical equipment. These new fuel cells produce a combined 4 megawatts, meeting about 80% of the facility’s energy needs. We expect to save $2.3 million per year and reduce carbon emissions by 4,000 metric tons per year when compared to buying energy from the local grid. “Fuel cells will supply a steady source of energy for our facility,” said Chris Sirois, facility director. “From an operational standpoint, the efficiency we expect to gain with these two units is significant.”
Despite setbacks resulting from Hurricane Maria, an earthquake, and the COVID-19 pandemic, we completed construction of a new solar plant at the Juncos, Puerto Rico, manufacturing facility. “It was a roller coaster ride, for sure,” said Daniel Sterner, Director of Global Energy at Medtronic. “But the team never lost focus and worked through some very difficult circumstances. We understand the importance of this project and what it means for our company, Puerto Rico, and its people.” The 5-megawatt plant produces clean energy for the Juncos facility and sends surplus power back to the local grid for community use.
Using energy efficiently is one of the cleanest, quickest, and most cost-effective ways to extend today's energy supply. Within the medical device industry, manufacturing facilities typically use the most energy. To minimize energy consumption, we make sure our manufacturing facility equipment runs efficiently. For example, we have replaced, less efficient lights at commercial and manufacturing facilities with energy efficient LED lights. In all, we’ve replaced more than 150,000 bulbs across 26 global sites and saved more than $3 million annually.
The health care industry is responsible for 4.5% of global carbon emissions.1 To help reduce emissions in our industry, we are taking a leadership role in collaborative climate action with the National Health Service (NHS) in England and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha signed a joint letter with other global healthcare CEOs as members of the International Leadership Group for a Net Zero NHS to support England’s largest health system with its net zero goals. Medtronic is also participating in the NAM Action Collaborative to Decarbonize the U.S. Health Sector, which brings together multi-sectoral leaders to co-develop and implement a shared action agenda to reduce environmental impacts and strengthen sustainability and climate resilience.
We understand that health is directly tied to the environment. By reducing our carbon footprint and being advocates for change in our industry, we are investing in the health of our company, our people, and our planet.