Green Goals are Good Business

Abbott’s environmental targets and commitment to continuous improvement build a more sustainable business.

Sustainability|Aug.16, 2019

Abbott's purpose is to help people live their best through better health. Protecting the environment is an important part of that commitment – that's why we seek the most sustainable ways to deliver life-changing technologies to people around the world.

Improving our environmental performance also strengthens our business by improving operational efficiency. Just one example: since 2010, our efforts to reduce product packaging have eliminated more than 41 million pounds of packaging and saved more than $100 million.

Our environmental work is an important part of Abbott's strategic approach to addressing key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Our 2018 Global Sustainability Report highlights these efforts, as well as the many other ways Abbott builds a more sustainable and responsible business to deliver long-term value for those we serve. 

The report provides updates on Abbott's performance to date toward our ambitious 2020 environmental targets for reducing carbon emissions, water use and waste. Also highlighted is our work to develop a new sustainability strategy, set to launch next year. The report includes an overview of the topics that will be the focus of this new strategy – including climate change and water – as well as other priority areas of greatest importance to Abbott, our industry and our stakeholders.

“Our environmental strategy informs how we operate our day-to-day business in a manner that safeguards the environment and helps improve the efficiency and sustainability of our business,” said Agnes Ortega, divisional vice president of Compliance and Operation Services, Abbott. “We’ve made strong progress toward our 2020 targets, and we look forward to establishing our next-generation environmental strategy.”

Reaching Abbott’s 2020 Goals

Abbott takes a focused, planned approach to limit the company’s environmental impact in the more than 160 countries where we do business. This included 77 projects aimed at reducing our impact on the environment globally and meeting the company’s 2020 targets.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Less Power, Fewer Emissions

At Abbott’s Casa Grande, Arizona, manufacturing plant for nutritional products, we upgraded controllers and transformers on seven energy substations at the facility. Becoming the first U.S.-based facility to use a new technology that helps optimize power flows, the Casa Grande plant now saves on energy costs, while providing a model for upgrading electricity infrastructure at other Abbott facilities.

It’s that kind of investment in efficiency that has put Abbott at 42% less overall emissions for 2018, ahead of our 2020 goal of 40% (both compared to 2010 baseline and normalized for sales).

Conserving Water

In Rio de Janeiro, we built a wastewater facility that processed 18 million liters of water for reuse, more than a third of the facility’s total water needs. The new reuse capability allowed the plant, which produces Abbott’s branded generic medicines, to increase production 11% in 2018 without requiring more water.

Other Abbott sites are pursuing additional water conservation projects, from reusing wastewater for gardening in facilities in India, to investing in smart new infrastructure in Donegal, Ireland, for the company’s diabetes business, where water use fell 8.1% through installation of new water tanks that conserve water.

With a 2020 goal of 30% less water use compared to 2010, Abbott sits at 27% for 2018 amidst strong growth across its core businesses in both established and developing markets. Along with cutting Abbott’s water use, we also engage our employees and suppliers about better water practices as well.

New Thinking Around Waste

Building on our longstanding work to minimize waste, we're transitioning to a circular economy approach for Abbott's manufacturing operations – cutting waste through preventive maintenance, improved manufacturing processes, better designs and by finding ways to reuse materials, among other steps.

Combined with recycling and other tactics, this new approach ensured that 88% of Abbott’s non-product waste was diverted from landfill in 2018.

Green Goals are Good Business

These efforts helped the company approach the 2020 goal of cutting total waste by 50%. Abbott has reached a 44% reduction from 2010 levels to date, with 33 of our facilities globally achieving Zero Waste to Landfills certification.

Waste reduction extends to Abbott's products as well. We set an aggressive target to reduce the total weight of packaging by 10 percent by 2020, compared to a 2010 baseline. This goal was surpassed in 2017, and we continued this progress by increasing the reduction total to nearly 14% in 2018.

To find out more, see the Safeguarding Our Environment section of Abbott’s 2018 Global Sustainability Report.