On the path to decarbonization: How we reduce our emissions
Do you remember the Paris Agreement, way back in December 2015? It became a significant international milestone with 196 countries discussing and aligning on how to best tackle climate change. They agreed to limit rising global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels and ideally to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Better mitigating environmental risks and impact was the goal they had in mind.
At Boehringer Ingelheim, we fully support the Paris Agreement and do our utmost to do our part. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that our company-wide emission reduction targets for 2030 have now received external validation by the reputable Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which evaluates decarbonization measures in the private sector. This confirms that our goals are in line with achieving the global 1.5 degrees goal – an ambitious, yet necessary effort to protect our planet, as well as the health and well-being of our global society.
Reducing the environmental footprint at our local sites
The recent verification by SBTi underscores the significance of Boehringer Ingelheim’s existing efforts within the MORE GREEN pillar, which is dedicated to driving a low-carbon transformation across the business. Since 2010, we have made remarkable strides in reducing our environmental footprint, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 41 percent (scope 1 and 2).
To reduce the environmental impact of our business, we need to put different plans into action at our local sites – like our colleagues did in Fornovo (Italy) and Paulínia (Brazil). These two sites have recently become our sixth and seventh site to be carbon-neutral in scope 1 and 2. What did it take to accomplish this? And what does “scope 1 and 2” actually mean? We had the chance to talk to Mauro Arrigoni, Head of Environment, Health & Safety in the EMEIA region and based in Fornovo, as well as Soyanne Marion, one of our environmental engineers in Brazil.
Both of your sites have now been declared carbon-neutral – congratulations! But what does this actually mean?
Soyanne: We are carbon-neutral in terms of scope 1 and scope 2. This basically means that the carbon neutrality of our sites applies both to the energy we produce and source. To achieve this, we took many steps over the past few years, with clear priorities: Avoiding, reducing, and replacing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mauro: In Italy, we take exactly the same approach. Actually, it is also not just our two sites – and the other sites which have already been certified as carbon-neutral –, but everything is part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s global MORE GREEN environmental sustainability program. Despite the global scope, we still have enough freedom to drive our customized initiatives at these sites we deeply identify with. And it’s not just about reducing emissions. We continuously drive the reduction of the environmental impact of our operations.
“We are the first chemical plant at our company which achieved carbon neutrality”
Could you give us some examples for such initiatives?
Soyanne: There are many ways to minimize your ecological footprint, and we continuously keep identifying new ones, such as energy audits. Let me give you some examples: All our forklifts are now electric, and most of our fleet of cars is fueled only by ethanol. Our reduction efforts can be seen in the electricity reduction we have achieved over the past few years. It remains a priority for us even though we use renewable energy only, for example generated by the solar panels on the roof of our new restaurant. We already reduced the annual electricity consumption between 2018 and 2022 by almost 30%, and we will continue. There is always more you can achieve.
Mauro: Our site obtained the certification of its environmental management system according to international standards in 2006. Using renewable electricity is also very important to us. We started using it exclusively in 2010, as the first Boehringer Ingelheim site worldwide! We have decreased water consumption by more than 60% since 2005 and also introduced many small steps, like banning plastic from the canteen. The site has been investing a lot over the years in the best available technologies regarding their environmental impact, like our wastewater treatment plant and thermal oxidizer. I agree with Soyanne: There is always more you can do for the planet. It also makes us proud that we are the first chemical plant at our company which achieved carbon neutrality.
When talking to you, one can tell that everything around the ecological footprint of your sites is your personal passion. What exactly drives you in your daily work?
Mauro: I think it is great that I have already been a part of this site for such a long time. And I want to bring up one more aspect: Our sustainability initiatives are not only good for the environment itself. We should not forget that they also benefit the compliance of the site. Last but not least, it allows us to save costs which supports our economic sustainability.
Soyanne: I love that constantly improving our site is a common effort. You really need everyone on board. Fortunately, this also applies to our senior leadership: Our site director always asks how new projects contribute to our More Green program. And I think we can also be a role model for others. The more organizations and companies that use green energy and drive innovation in this field, the better.
Mauro: One last example which you may not expect because it has become so natural to all of us: our global concept of green meetings and conferences. We don’t constantly need to travel to meet nowadays, but we can meet online as well – imagine this wouldn’t have been possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit my home region really hard in early 2020. It is great to see how everything is evolving at our company on a local and global level, and I am looking forward to everything that is yet to come!
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