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Merck Sustainability Report: CO2 Emissions Drop 5%

Pharmaceuticals company Merck reduced its absolute carbon emissions by 5 percent year-on-year, from 2.2 million metric tons of CO2e in 2010 to 2.09 million in 2011, according to the firm’s latest sustainability report.

In the same period the company’s total energy use fell 3.3 percent, from 27.1 trillion to 26.2 trillion BTUs. Over that time the company increased the proportion of its energy it draws from natural gas from 54 percent to 60 percent, and reduced the proportion of its energy use attributable to fleet fuel from 12 percent to 10 percent.

Seven Merck sites installed solar arrays in 2011. Together they eliminated over 2,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions, the report says. The company also installed two 2 MW wind turbines at its Cramlington, UK, site in late 2010.

Between 2009 and 2011, the company converted its US Human Health sales fleet, which represents 28 percent of its corporate fleet miles driven each year, from 6 cylinder to lower-fuel-use 4 cylinder cars. In addition, pilot projects involving hybrid, alternative fuel and electric cars are under way, the report says.

Merck’s water use dropped almost 10 percent year-on-year from 10.2 billion gallons in 2010 to 9.2 billion gallons in 2011. Its purchased water total dropped just over 7 percent over that time period, from 2.8 billion gallons in 2010 to 2.6 billion gallons in 2011.

Because of the “strong interdependency” between its water and energy use, Merck says that its global energy team is responsible for implementing water use reductions. The energy team is currently evaluating how the company uses water, and is implementing water conservation best practices, the report says.

Many Merck facilities employ water reuse and recovery strategies, such as recirculation of water in cooling towers and condensate recovery, the report says. During 2011, the company recycled or reused 1.9 billion gallons of water, which reduced its demand for freshwater by 17 percent, the report says.

Merck was one of 45 multinational companies that endorsed the UN CEO Water Mandate, a public commitment to adopt and implement a comprehensive approach to water management, in April 2012.

The hazardous waste produced by Merck fell just over 5 percent year-on-year from 85,300 metric tons in 2010 to 81,000 metric tons in 2011. Merck says that the reduction is in large part a result of its discontinuing certain processes.

The primary component of Merck’s hazardous wastes is solvent from its manufacturing operations. Of the hazardous waste Merck generates, 30 percent is recovered off-site and reused either by Merck or by other industries. The proportion of its hazardous waste that Merck recycled increased from 22 percent to 30 percent last year. This represents a 7 percent increase in off-site hazardous-waste recycling between 2010 and 2011. Another 28 percent is burned as a source of energy in industrial furnaces, such as cement kilns, or to generate power, Merck says.

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