We know that good health is the foundation for everything in life. There are clear connections between healthy people and the health of societies, economies and the planet.
And these connections impact us all. Growing challenges like climate change and air and water pollution endanger communities, and threaten progress to create a healthier world.
We've long been focused on protecting the environment, and have taken action to reduce our environmental footprint since the first Earth Day in 1970. In the 50 years since then, our efforts have only grown in scope, most recently with our 2020 environmental goal results. And looking ahead, our 2030 Sustainability Plan is focused on building a healthier future for all, including protecting a healthy environment – as we build a stronger, more sustainable Abbott for years to come.
Protecting the Environment, Through a Single Product
Our work extends across our company, and our products. Just one example: our FreeStyle Libre technology. Beyond transforming the care of diabetes, FreeStyle Libre also demonstrates how we're reducing our environmental impact in multiple ways:
- Less plastic: We designed our new FreeStyle Libre 3 system1, which received CE mark in Europe, to be more sustainable for the environment with a smaller, more discrete sensor and a one-piece applicator, reducing the total volume by more than 70%. The new sensor design uses 41% less plastic and requires 43% less carton paper than previous systems2.
- Zero waste production: One of the key sites for producing the FreeStyle Libre family of products in Witney, England, is also one of Abbott's 36 sites that send zero waste to landfills. All waste — from the factory floor to the cafeteria — is recycled, reused, composted, or responsibly incinerated with much of the energy recaptured for future use.
- Reduced emissions: The Witney site has reduced its absolute carbon emissions by nearly 20% over the past decade, even as production has significantly increased to accommodate demand.
- Engaging consumers: We launched a pilot takeback program in the U.S. to allow people to send back used sensor kits for free, keeping them out of landfills.
A Decade of Progress: Our 2020 Results
Beyond efforts to smartly redesign our products, we've also been measuring and reducing our emissions, water use and waste around the world. And like many companies, we are at a transition point – measuring progress against the goals we set for 2020, while also setting our sights on 2030.
We are proud of the progress we made against our 2020 goals. In the last decade, we took on hundreds of projects to reduce our environmental impact – including 80 projects at 33 sites across 10 countries in 2020 alone. This work helped us deliver real results (all compared to 2010 baseline and normalized for sales):
- Reduced carbon emissions by 50% (exceeding our goal of 40%)
- Reduced water usage by 33% (exceeding our goal of 30%)
- Reduced waste by 47% (nearly achieving our ambitious 50% target)
The impact of these results goes beyond protecting the environment. They also contribute to Abbott's growth – by increasing our energy, water and waste efficiency, we've delivered cost savings as well. One example: we saved over $100 million in packaging since 2010, reinforcing the compelling business case for sustainability.
Looking Ahead to 2030
As we mark these important milestones, we're already implementing our plan to deliver even more progress over the next decade.
Protecting a healthy environment is a crucial pillar of our 2030 Sustainability Plan. We've evolved our approach to tackle the massive challenges we all face – because we know that "business as usual" won't get it done. For example, we're now implementing a circular approach to manage waste, and focusing efforts on sites that have higher water risk and impact. And we're also expanding our efforts to suppliers and other organizations and communities.