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Waste Not
Abbott’s Environmental Goals Build a More Sustainable Business

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 VP of Compliance and Operation Services at Abbott. “We’ve made strong progress toward our 2020 targets, and we look forward to establishing our next-generation environmental strategy.”

Reaching our 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.

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 US-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 percent less overall emissions for 2018, ahead of our 2020 goal of 40 percent (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 percent 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 infrastructure in Donegal, Ireland, for the company’s diabetes business — where water use fell 8.1 percent through installation of new, water-conserving tanks.

With a 2020 goal of 30 percent less water use compared to 2010, Abbott sits at 27 percent 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 percent of Abbott’s non-product waste was diverted from landfill in 2018.

These efforts helped the company approach the 2020 goal of cutting total waste by 50 percent. Abbott has reached a 44 percent 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 percent in 2018.

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