Merck has achieved and exceeded its corporate goal to reduce energy demand by 25 percent from a 2004 baseline and its water use by 15 percent between 2004 and 2008, according to the company’s 2008 global corporate responsibility report (PDF).
To reduce energy consumption, Merck has implemented several energy-efficiency projects including the installation of variable speed drives, re-commissioning of production, research and office buildings, and the use of free cooling and heat recovery from recirculating water systems.
The company also has announced its goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global facilities and automobiles by 12 percent by the end of 2012, from the baseline year of 2004.
Merck tracks four greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons, although the vast majority of its GHG emissions are associated with CO2.
Based on 2008 results, Merck’s net reduction in GHG emissions was 180,400 metric tons or 13.2 percent from a 2004 baseline that has been adjusted for sites that have been sold.
As part of its strategy to reduce GHG emissions, Merck is using renewable energy sources. As an example, in April 2009, Merck inaugurated a 1.6-megawatt ground-mounted photovoltaic energy array at its corporate headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J. The company said a solar project of this size will avoid the emissions of more than 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
In 2008, Merck also began to track direct GHG emissions associated with its air fleet. These emissions, which totaled 4,150 metric tons, were not included in its original GHG emissions goals and are small in comparison to overall GHG emissions, according to the report.
Merck’s strategy for improving water use efficiency includes reducing its overall demand for water, controlling its water discharges and understanding the water-related challenges in the regions where it operates. In 2008, Merck facilities recycled or reused 1.8 billion gallons of water, reducing its water use by 15 percent between 2004 and 2008.
In 2008, the company used 6.1 billion gallons of water less than in 2004, which translates into a 52 percent reduction. The closure and sale of two water intensive facilities accounted for 59 percent of its total reduction. Water use reductions at the remainder of its facilities, including new sites that have been added, were 21.4 percent.
Merck is also working to reduce its demand for hazardous materials by preventing the generation of waste and reusing or recycling materials. As an example, in 2008, more than one-third of the solvents it used for manufacturing were recovered solvents.
Merck’s generation of hazardous wastes decreased 23 percent from 2005 to 2008. Of the hazardous waste generated by the company, 29 percent is recovered off-site and reused either by Merck or by other industries. Another 26 percent is burned as a source of energy in industrial furnaces or to generate power. Most of the remaining waste is product or research waste that is not recyclable.
Of the total hazardous waste generated, 39 percent is incinerated and less than three percent of its hazardous waste is sent to landfills.
Based on the first two years of data, on average Merck recycles approximately 44 percent of the 27,000 to 32,000 metric tons of non-hazardous wastes it generates.