Of the 10 largest manufacturers of medical equipment and supplies, with more than $100 billion in annual sales, only four have announced any public environmental sustainability goals, according to a study from Green Research released today.
According to the study, Benchmarking Sustainability Goals and Practices: Medical Equipment and Supplies, only Baxter International, BD, Covidien and Medtronic have specific, quantitative sustainability goals. Boston Scientific, Smith & Nephew, St. Jude Medical, Stryker, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Zimmer Holdings do not, Green Research said.
The four companies had five objectives related to waste management, more than any other environmental area. They had only three goals related to greenhouse gas emissions, which is a top priority in most other industries.
The report found that the companies cover social, ethical and other issues in their sustainability, citizenship or social responsibility programs, but in setting and disclosing quantitative goals, they tend to limit themselves to environmental targets.
These companies are still missing significant opportunities, the report said. For example, they have primarily set sustainability goals that are focused on internal operations.
As an example of good practices, the report highlights two companies, Stryker and BD, which have created businesses that reclaim, recycle or remanufacture used medical products, helping hospitals to reduce their waste burden and creating a new revenue stream in the process.
Green Research also benchmarked how the medical equipment makers present information about their sustainability programs on their corporate websites. Of the communication measures tracked, including third-party assurance, reporting of key data and provision of sustainability contact information, Baxter and Medtronic provided the most comprehensive information.