Materials Use

Customers, governments and other stakeholders are increasingly focused on the materials and chemical substances used in products and packaging. With regard to medical products, stakeholders are especially focused on health and safety and environmental impacts, especially at product end-of-life. In some countries, legislation restricts the use of specific substances in products. Customers are also interested in which materials are recyclable, such as in packaging.

Baxter carefully considers the potential impacts of the materials it uses in its products and packaging, and takes a disciplined approach to identifying materials for possible restriction. The company focuses on the amount as well as the types of materials used, working to eliminate hazardous substances wherever possible. For its electronic products, Baxter also works to maximize product service life, reuse and recycling as appropriate. This decreases the demand for virgin materials to produce new products.

In 2012, Baxter purchased more than 215,000 metric tons of major commodities for use in its products and packaging, in addition to pre-manufactured components (see Major Materials Purchased for Manufacturing). The company continues working to improve the efficiency of its materials use. Baxter implemented projects that reduced total packaging by 850 metric tons in 2012, on an annualized basis1 (see Packaging for details). Because plastic scrap from manufacturing is Baxter's largest waste stream, generating roughly one-third of the company's non-hazardous waste, reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling is another key focus (see Waste for details).

Product Design

Baxter's research and development and manufacturing operations work with environmental, health and safety (EHS) specialists to ensure that new products meet robust environmental design principles, comply with environmental regulations and satisfy customer requirements. As part of the company's product development process, Baxter applies a Product Sustainability Review (PSR) to all new medical devices, assessing EHS impacts across the product life cycle, including those related to materials selection and use. For example, new electrical and electronic devices under development are designed to meet the European Union's Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive guidelines wherever they are sold worldwide. All devices are screened for the presence of chemicals from the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation list of "Substances of Very High Concern" (SVHCs) and are considered for elimination.

Supplementing PSR, Baxter also uses formal life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental performance of its products and determine ways to reduce their environmental footprints. This may include decreasing the presence of chemicals of concern and reducing life cycle water or energy consumption, carbon footprint and waste generation. See Product Sustainability Review for more detail.

Reporting Material Use

Customers and governmental regulations increasingly require companies to disclose information about materials and chemical substances used in products and manufacturing. However, effectively tracking and reporting this data is complex given the number and evolution of these standards, and since a product may contain components from numerous suppliers worldwide.

To better meet this challenge, Baxter is implementing a global project to determine and record in one resource the material chemical content of all substances and parts purchased for use in Baxter's products. The project also seeks to better understand what, if any, key chemicals of concern are present and to meet global regulations, such as the RoHS Directive and REACH Regulation (see Case Study: Materials Restrictions). To date, the company has gathered information from suppliers for about 44 percent of its product components (out of a total of tens of thousands of parts overall). Through this process, Baxter has identified the presence of SVHCs in some components and improved its understanding of which suppliers and components may pose a higher risk in this regard.

The next phase of the project, beginning in 2013, will target an expanded list of components and the substances included in the initial phase, as well as additional SVHC’s from the REACH Directive list, as it expands. In addition to materials restricted by regulations, the company is also gathering information about substances such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and latex, which are of interest to some customers.

As Baxter receives information from a larger percentage of its suppliers covering a higher proportion of components used in its products, the company anticipates that the quality of the data collected will continue to improve. Nonetheless, ensuring compliance will require ongoing expansion of supplier engagement, working with new suppliers, and potentially modifying product designs.

Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act requires companies to file annual reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission beginning May 31, 2014, indicating if their products contain tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo or adjoining countries (known as “conflict minerals”). Baxter has established an internal team that is working with its suppliers to ensure compliance with these regulations.

Materials Innovations

To meet the preferences of some customers and address drug compatibility issues in specific clinical applications, Baxter has invested and continues to allocate significant resources to develop a variety of materials that meet the unique and evolving technical, design, regulatory, clinical and commercial requirements of individual product lines and markets. The company’s research team, headed by world-leading experts in plastics technology, considers the distinct characteristics of the solutions to be held in the containers, the performance characteristics required, the scientific data supporting safe use, regulatory requirements, environmental impact, and other aspects.

The company now offers a portfolio of more than 300 intravenous medications, parenteral nutrition solutions, injectable drugs, biopharmaceuticals, IV sets and access devices and other products that use or are contained in non-DEHP [di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate] or non-PVC materials. See Baxter's position statement on PVC in medical products.

Baxter will continue its science-based approach toward the development and adoption of materials used in its products.

Broader Impacts

Baxter recognizes the interrelationship between materials choices and other environmental issues. The company estimates that in 2012 the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Baxter's supply chain attributable to Baxter's business equaled 1,072,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), 23.0% of Baxter's total GHG emissions footprint. This included raw materials extraction and processing as well as other activities (see Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change for more detail). These numbers do not include GHG emissions related to product transport (see Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change for more detail).

1 These savings represent the total savings attributable to identified projects across the company, counted only for the first year the packaging innovation is implemented.

Sustainability Priority Addressed on this Page

Baxter Will Drive Enhanced Product Stewardship