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Business & Profession Business and Innovation, Health Economics and Policy

Sustainability: A Message from Jeannette Bankes

sponsored by Alcon

What is your vision for sustainability in eye care?
 

Sustainability is a key pillar of Alcon’s Environment, Social and Governance commitment, alongside championing access to eye care for all. We regard sustainability as an opportunity to improve lives and strengthen communities through eye care and caring for our planet at the same time. As we manufacture around 90 percent of our products internally, we have the ability to reduce their environmental impact (1). With our customers and industry partners, we can make a positive impact on the environment.

What steps has Alcon taken towards achieving your sustainability goals?
 

We are focused on three key areas: incorporating sustainability into product development, reducing product-related environmental impact, and reducing operational environmental impact.

We’ve implemented a Sustainability Scorecard into our R&D processes to ensure we are integrating sustainability measures immediately from the inception of each new product. We’re also finding solutions to reduce our packaging and shipping waste through internal projects such as our Green Innovations Surgical Team (GreenIST) and surgical equipment refurbishment program.

Which innovations have affected your sustainability goals?
 

Since the establishment of GreenIST last year, we have created a version of our Centurion® Fluid Management System (FMS) within a Custom Pak® without its tray or lid, reducing FMS waste by 90 percent (2). The impact is three-fold – minimizing waste, plastic usage, and our carbon dioxide footprint.

GreenIST also identified other opportunities, including replacing packaging Styrofoam with Green Cell foam in the US for shipments of our Ophthalmic Viscosurgical Devices. Green Cell foam is sustainable, functional, biodegradable, and dissolvable in water (3). This has eliminated more than 12,000 lbs of waste and more than 100,000 lbs of Styrofoam annually (4). GreenIST has also helped implement the removal of printed Directions for Use booklets in some markets, decreasing the total weight of certain intraocular lens packages by 53 percent (5).

We are proud to share that this year, three Alcon facilities received the GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification for diverting 100 percent of total waste from landfills, making Alcon the first healthcare company to be GreenCircle certified for Zero Waste to Landfill operations.

One other key advancement involves Alcon becoming the first eye care device company to allow customers to perform carbon neutral cataract surgery. Alcon UK & Ireland partnered with Sandro Di Simplicio, consultant ophthalmologist fromtheNewcastleEyeCentre,andthe Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on the pilot program. The carbon management plan was audited by the National Quality Assurance, granting PAS 2060 verification, an internationally recognized standard in achieving carbon neutrality.

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  1. Alcon, “2021 Annual Report” (2021). Available at: https://bit.ly/3nzwS3X.
  2. Alcon, “2020 Corporate Responsibility Report” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/3OA7NBz.
  3. GreenCellFoam (2022). Available at: https://bit.ly/3nBIGm0.
  4. Data on File. Styrofoam Elimination. 
  5. Data on File. Weight Reduction Study DFU Elimination Report.
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