B Corp certification: a valuable initiative for the healthcare supply chain

2 min read

By Jesper Jonsson, Director of Medical Devices, Owen Mumford

If the healthcare sector were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of global emissions on the planet[1] – representing 4.4% of the total worldwide footprint.[2] About 70% of these emissions are driven by the supply chain.[3] However, the sector has in recent years witnessed a tangible shift in mentality when it comes to environmental sustainability. With regulators, hospital systems, governments and consumers increasingly demanding proof of environmental credentials, sustainability has rapidly become a fundamental part of the healthcare supplier’s corporate agenda.

When it comes to sustainability, the healthcare sector faces the unique challenge of preventing infection transmission. Reconciling a reduction in waste with the need to ensure safety for healthcare workers and patients is a difficult balancing act. This obstacle became more apparent with the onset of the global pandemic and the subsequent proliferation in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccination materials such as glass vials and syringes.

For medical device manufacturers specifically, reducing their overall carbon footprint is best done by reviewing the entire lifecycle of their products. This can entail reducing the number of components within a product, for instance. Careful attention should also be paid to the manufacturing process and the way in which products are moved through the supply chain. Making changes of this kind may also reduce business costs through reduced energy consumption, making it an even more attractive strategic decision.

WORKING TOWARDS B CORP CERTIFICATION

Medical device companies are accustomed to meeting strict regulatory requirements to demonstrate that their products are safe for patients. This audit-based approach can be applied to meeting sustainability objectives. At Owen Mumford, we submitted our business to a B Corp assessment to reaffirm our longstanding commitment to sustainability and ensure we were continuing to do everything in our power to give the issue sufficient attention. The assessment was comprised of over 250 questions across five different areas of impact and went beyond purely environmental subject matters. The “B Impact Assessment” also examined company governance, engagement with the community, worker support and stewardship of customers.

While we had already made active changes to minimise our environmental impact, such as setting up an Environmental Steering Group to conduct and monitor sustainability initiatives in 2014, the B Corp review required us to implement additional changes. Our commitments are now featured in our articles of association which ensure continued respect for them, and also hold us accountable to all our stakeholders. In addition, we performed an analysis of our suppliers, services and materials to assess their material contribution to our carbon footprint across our supply chain network.

We continue to review how we can reduce the overall impact of the manufacturing process. For instance, our UK sites are now mainly powered by renewable sources, notably by energy generated through our own on-site solar arrays. Across our global operations, our energy reduction initiatives in the UK, USA and Malaysia succeeded in reducing our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by more than a quarter (27.3%).

A PRESSING ISSUE

Joining over 4,000 companies worldwide, Owen Mumford is one of the very first medical device companies to achieve B Corp certification. The certification is an effective way to jumpstart a thorough review of business operations and acts as a helpful framework for businesses aiming to raise standards in this area and grow their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda. This is especially important for the healthcare industry, which has very specific challenges relating to infection control and waste management; a holistic assessment of manufacturing operations may be invaluable in identifying where sustainability efficiencies could be made to limit the impact of the final products.

 


[1] Hospital Healthcare Europe, Medical device remanufacturing offered as an example to cut greenhouse gas emissions, 29th April 20201: https://hospitalhealthcare.com/news/medical-device-remanufacturing-offered-as-an-example-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

[2] The Lancet Planetary Health, M.Lanzen, A.Malik, M.Li, J.Fry, H.Weisz, P.Pichler, L.S.M. Chaves, A.Capon, D. Pencheon, The environmental footprint of health care: a global assessment, 01 July 2020, Vol. 4, No. 7

[3] Hospital Healthcare Europe, Medical device remanufacturing offered as an example to cut greenhouse gas emissions, 29th April 20201: https://hospitalhealthcare.com/news/medical-device-remanufacturing-offered-as-an-example-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions/