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Building A Sustainable Future How Alcon is meeting the challenge of protecting the environment without compromising patient care

sponsored by Alcon

The impact of ophthalmology on our shared environment is profound, but can be changed for the better through individual actions as well as large scale changes from ophthalmology industry leaders. To find out more about how Alcon is building sustainable practices into every aspect of their surgical franchise, we sat down with Jeannette Bankes, President and General Manager for Alcon’s Global Surgical Franchise.

What are some of the unique challenges of sustainable practice in ophthalmology?

We’re facing the challenge of balancing single-use versus reusable medical devices while always prioritizing patient safety. We know that single-use materials have a greater environmental impact, so we focus on creating disposables that are environmentally friendly and reusables that are effective and safe. At Alcon, we have well-established, rigorous safety procedures from product innovation to distribution to clinical trials that have allowed us to seamlessly integrate sustainable practices across our surgical franchise. We know we can also move the needle on sustainability by minimizing energy use, reducing packaging and post-consumer waste, and increasing the use of recycled materials, while never compromising on patient safety.

What is the value of sustainability for Alcon?

The value of sustainability is paramount at Alcon. We recognize that our health is intrinsically tied to the health of our planet and environment. One of our pillar areas for social impact and sustainability is Brilliant Lives. Through our Brilliant Lives initiatives, we’ve committed to help improve vision for five million people afflicted with untreated cataracts in low- and middle-income countries and provide 150,000 vision screenings to children by our associates. These commitments are examples of how sustainability drives measurable value for our business, partners and associates.

How is Alcon focusing on sustainability at the moment?

We prioritize three focus areas: Incorporating Sustainability into Product Development, Reducing Product- Related Environmental Impact, and Reducing Operational Environmental Impact. While we are always working against these areas, most recently, we announced the expansion of our Plastic Bank partnership. The idea is simple – for each ton of plastic introduced in the marketplace with UltraSert and AutonoMe, Plastic Bank, an organization that builds recycling ecosystems in under-developed communities to fight plastic pollution, will collect an equivalent amount of ocean-bound plastic in vulnerable coastal communities.

Can you tell us about the Green Innovations Surgical Team – what are its aims, and what’s new with its 2023 program?

We formed the Green Innovations Surgical Team (GreenIST) in 2021 to identify opportunities to increase sustainability measures and reduce waste for commercialized products within our Surgical franchise globally. Some of the changes led by GreenIST include removing the plastic tray from our Centurion® Fluid Management System (FMS) pack, resulting in a ~90 percent reduction in material waste. We also implemented the removal of printed Directions for Use (DFU) booklets, reducing paper and carbon dioxide (CO2) usage and decreasing the weight of IOL packages by 53 percent. In 2023, we are continuing to expand our efforts bringing these changes to even more countries and looking across our portfolio of products for new ways we can remove waste.

What are some of Alcon’s sustainability goals for the future?

In addition to the Brilliant Lives goals, we are pursuing a pathway to be carbon neutral across global operations by 2030 (Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions). We’ve also committed to diverting 100 percent of non-hazardous waste generated at manufacturing sites and distribution centers from landfill and sourcing 100 percent renewable energy by improving energy efficiency across our operations through renewable energy and energysaving projects.

Is there anything else you would like to pass on about this to the eyecare world?

At Alcon, we believe we can improve lives and strengthen communities through innovative eye care to help everyone See Brilliantly. Safe and equitable eye health treatment can be possible while we care for our planet too. More details about all our social impact and sustainability efforts and our progress toward these goals can be found in our annual Social Impact & Sustainability Report.

©2023 Alcon Inc. GLB-ULS-2300002

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  1. Alcon Data on file, 2021.
  2. Alcon Data on File, 2022.
  3. Alcon Data on file, 2022.
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