Materials Use

Materials use is a key driver of Baxter’s overall environmental footprint. Baxter estimates that in 2013 the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Baxter's supply chain attributable to the company’s business equaled 966,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), 19% of Baxter's total GHG emissions footprint. This included raw materials extraction and processing as well as other activities such as the manufacture of components and supplies for Baxter. (See GHG Emissions across the Value Chain for more detail).

Therefore, decisions about materials – including the types used as well as the quantities – are an important focus for the company. 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.

Using materials efficiently is also a priority. Plastic scrap from manufacturing is the company’s largest waste stream, so reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling is essential. See Case Study: Baxter Plastic Waste Reduction Program for details. For its electronic products, Baxter works to maximize product service life, reuse and recycling as appropriate. This decreases the demand for virgin materials to produce new products. Baxter also works to optimize packaging, another significant use of materials, and implemented projects that reduced total packaging by nearly 200 metric tons in 2013, on an annualized basis1 (see Packaging for details).

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

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. For example, new electrical and electronic devices under development are designed to meet the European Union (EU) 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 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 for more detail.

Materials Innovations

To meet the preferences of some customers and address drug compatibility issues in specific clinical applications, Baxter continues to identify 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, scientific data supporting safe use, regulatory requirements, environmental impact, and other aspects.

Materials Restrictions

The EU RoHS Directive seeks to phase out the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and brominated flame retardants used in electronic products such as computers, televisions and mobile phones. This is principally aimed at minimizing negative environmental impacts from these substances throughout the product life cycle, in particular at product end-of-life.

Although exempt from the original Directive, medical devices will fall within the scope of the RoHS2 Directive beginning in July 2014. After that time, new medical devices that contain, subject to certain thresholds2, the substances listed above cannot be placed on the EU market. To comply with the directive, manufacturers must provide documentation demonstrating conformity of relevant products to the requirements. Furthermore, countries such as China, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan and some U.S. states such as California have already proposed or enacted legislation similar to RoHS2. Baxter has implemented a global strategy to respond to these regulations worldwide, and requires that new electrical and electronic equipment under development meet RoHS and RoHS2 Directive restrictions.

Baxter is also working to ensure it meets the EU REACH Regulation. Under the legislation, chemical suppliers, manufacturers or importers of more than one metric ton of a chemical substance in a given year must register the substance with the European Chemical Agency. The regulation expands significantly the number of substances that will require authorization for use, identifies SVHCs that may face future restrictions, and requires companies to proactively inform customers about the presence3 of those substances in products. Baxter has registered all required substances and preparations following the regulation.

Baxter's cross-functional REACH team oversees the company's ongoing response to this regulation and explores further opportunities to eliminate hazardous substances. More generally, the company assesses existing, new and emerging environmental regulations (including with regard to materials use) to identify and prioritize critical business issues; benchmarks against industry peers; and develops positions and strategies to further improve its environmental performance.

Reporting Materials Use

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

Baxter is implementing a global project to determine and assess the material chemical content of substances and parts purchased for use in Baxter's products. The company uses this to understand what key chemicals of concern are present and to meet global regulations, such as the RoHS Directive and REACH Regulation. The company 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. Ensuring compliance requires ongoing expansion of supplier engagement, working with new suppliers, and potentially modifying product designs.

Baxter also focuses on due diligence, training and reporting related to tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo or adjoining countries (known as “conflict minerals”). See Supplier Standards for more detail.

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.

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.
2 As defined by the RoHS2 Directive, maximum concentrations allowed are 0.1% by weight of homogeneous material for all substances except for cadmium which is restricted to 0.01% by weight.
3 As defined by REACH Regulation, “presence” equals at least 0.1% of the total product mass.