Sustainability Impacts Medical Devices Too Reply

Mark Crawford of Pilgrim Software recently conducted a Q&A with Capaccio’s Wayne Bates regarding sustainability and the medical device industry.  Pilgrim Software is a world-leading provider of Enterprise Risk, Compliance and Quality Management (ERCQM) solutions for highly regulated industries. Pilgrim has pioneered effective, integrated software solutions for the Life and Health Sciences and Consumer industries, as well as manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace and defense, and other non-regulated industries.


“Sustainability” has become a trendy, mainstream term over the past decade. However, applying the triple-bottom line aspects of sustainability—economic prosperity, social well-being, and environmental stewardship—is of growing importance to customers, employees, investors, and non-governmental organizations (i.e., stakeholders of manufacturing and institutional organizations).  

Question: Wayne, how would you define sustainability?

 Sustainability is the ability of an organization to transparently manage and balance its responsibilities of environmental stewardship, social well-being, and economic prosperity over the long term. People often get sidetracked by definitional disputes. However, to be sustainable, regardless of size, an organization must identify and manage the environmental, economic, and social risks and opportunities associated with its operations and products. History is rich with examples such as unsustainable societies, practices, and products. The question is: How long can something that is not sustainable last?

 Why has sustainability become such a buzzword in recent years?

 Well-run companies (and societies) have been operating in a sustainable manner for years because it is good business. To a large extent, marketing is the reason sustainability is such a mainstream buzz word. As a whole, societies of developed nations are holding corporations more accountable for the products they are producing, especially in the business-to-consumer markets. In turn, organizations are responding by addressing their impacts and promoting the efforts to sell goods. As the general public becomes more educated on sustainable practices, the expectations are beginning to be integrated into the business-to-business world.

 Why is sustainability important to the medical device industry?

 In addition to the pressure society is putting on business-to-consumer companies to be more sustainable, governmental agencies continue to revise existing regulations and pass new ones that have a direct operational impact from an economic, environmental, and social perspective. For example, the United States recently passed the Dodd-Frank Act that requires organizations to verify that its products do not contain minerals originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is having a significant impact on large and small medical device companies and their supply chains. As a result, large and small medical device companies should be prepared to confront an increasingly broad range of environmental, economic, and social issues. 

 What are the value drivers for sustainability in the medical device industry?

 Value drivers may vary depending on the organization, but here are some examples:

  • Customers—group purchasing organizations can encourage the use of eco-friendly medical products
  • Suppliers—it is good business practice, and in some instances required by large organizations as a condition of doing business, to ensure that suppliers track and verify their sources
  • Data management—environmental metrics can be effectively tracked and managed through environmental health and safety management systems
  • Compliance with legislation—legislation, like the European directives (e.g., RoHS and WEEE), drives product stewardship and dictates what goes into a product
  • Economic value—increasing cost savings and efficiency reduces risks and impacts related to costs

How can a company track and communicate performance?

 There are many external ranking systems like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Newsweek, and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) that both influence and drive sustainability performance. It can be difficult to decide what to measure and report, but organizations should consider material issues that can be managed, as well as what is important to stakeholders. It is imperative that companies seeking to track and communicate performance make a commitment to sustainability and set quantifiable, achievable goals. Management systems such as ISO 9000, ISO 14000, and OSHAS 18000 help with tracking this data from several different departments or locations. A growing number of companies are communicating their sustainability programs by preparing and publishing a Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability report that covers the economic, environmental, and social aspects of the organization.

 How does having a sustainability program help companies manage stakeholders expectations?

 As noted above, understanding value drivers helps an organization identify and manage risks, challenges, and opportunities, whereas tracking and communicating performance  allows a company to transparently balance the three responsibilities. In doing so, it is important for organizations to understand and demonstrate expectations of both internal and external customers. For example, internal customers, including employees that expect to work for a socially responsible company, need to be shown how they can play a role in sustainability efforts, and be made aware that there is an ongoing commitment from the company. Ultimately, instead of viewing sustainability as “just another thing to do” it can be a tool to manage risk and address challenges throughout the organization. 

 Your company is presenting a panel session on sustainability for the Advanced Medical Technology Association’s annual educational conference in October in Boston. This is the first time an AdvaMed conference has devoted a panel discussion devoted to sustainability, correct?

 That’s right. The conference will be held October 1-3 in Boston. Capaccio Environmental Engineering is organizing a panel session entitled “Addressing the Evolving Sustainability Demands for the Medical Device Industry.” I will be moderating the panel that will include sustainability representatives from Smith & Nephew, Johnson & Johnson, Covidien, and Becton, Dickinson and Company, who will offer their unique perspectives on emerging trends and challenges and how they are addressing sustainability in their organizations.

For more information visit: and

Reminder – 2012 CDP Reporting Deadlines are Approaching Reply

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reporting deadlines for 2012 are rapidly approaching.  As a reminder, below are the upcoming deadlines. The CDP rankings are widely used to evaluate the performance and transparency of publically traded companies (even Google Finance prominently lists CDP rankings as part of company key stats and ratios).   Guidance on CDP reporting and information on the scoring methodology is available on the CDP website.

The timeline for Carbon Reporting for Investor CDP:

  • Feb 1:  CDP sends out its annual information request to companies worldwide
  • May 31:  Deadline for corporations to submit their responses
  • Sept –  Publically disclosed information is published on the CDP website

 The timeline for Carbon Reporting for Supply Chain CDP:

  • April 1:  CDP sends out its annual information request to companies worldwide
  • July 31:  Deadline for suppliers to submit their responses
  • Jan – Publically disclosed information is published on the CDP website

The timeline for CDP Water Reporting:

  • Feb 1 – CDP Water Disclosure Information Request to targeted companies
  • June 30 – Deadline for companies to respond to the questionnaire
  • Oct-Nov – Public response data is published on CDP website

Capaccio Environmental Engineering, Inc. has assisted our clients with sustainability strategic plans, benchmarking, gap analysis, carbon and water footprinting, program implementation, data management, and reporting to help improve rankings as well as address other important sustainability performance objectives.   We are proud of the fact that our clients consistently appear at the top of both environmental and business performance lists, which is consistent with our mission of “helping industry and the environment prosper.”

For additional information or assistance in completing or reviewing reports, please contact us at

Carbon Disclosure Project vs. Taxes – Can you see the similarities? Reply

Spring is in the air, but that also means we are in the midst of tax season and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) carbon reporting season.  At a first glance, you wouldn’t think so, but both filing processes are remarkably similar.  

Filing taxes increases transparency to shareholders, clients, and the public on company financials. Measuring and disclosing greenhouse gas emissions data by participating in the CDP does the same thing on an environmental front.  Both processes can help businesses identify risks, plan for the future, increase efficiency and reduce unnecessary costs.

Other similarities? The CDP offers a detailed Guidance document with step-by-step instructions and explains the reporting system structure in excruciating detail; a striking similarity to tax preparation guidance documents!   The CDP provides a dizzying list of descriptions, codes, and policies. Sound familiar?

As the final step to preparation, the CDP provides a Response Check, or “high level checking service” that reviews responses prior to submission. External consultants review the responses for completeness and offer expert feedback for a standard $1,000 fee. In the tax world, you have your local CPA.

 Keep the deadlines in mind, and do your spring cleaning of paperwork!

Corporate Water Footprinting: Why is it important? (Part 3) Reply

As we mentioned in our previous blog, water is both a local and global issue and must become a major priority in any sustainable organization.  The water scarcity issue is addressed in The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which concentrates on reversing poverty, hunger, and disease internationally.  Goal 7 of the MDG aims to “Ensure Environmental Sustainability” and includes a specific target to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” The UN states that this target will not be met.

In a recent news article from the American Geophysical Union, the President of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, addresses the status of the world’s water. Regarding falling short on the MDG for water, Gleik blames a lack of priority, not technology. He suggests an integrated approach for water issues, similar to energy and climate change issues. To accomplish this, it is necessary to understand “where the water is and where the water goes.”

A joint mission between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, entitled the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), involves two satellites that have been taking monthly images of groundwater since 2002. In ScienceNews (January 2012), Leonard Konikow stated, “There are too many areas in the world where groundwater development far exceeds a sustainable level. Something will have to change.” That change can begin with corporate water footprinting, and identifying the water stressed areas both up and down the supply chain.