Sigma-Aldrich continues to evolve our environmental sustainability approach. We began with water, energy, emissions, waste, product, transportation and shipping operations and supply chain management. Now, our broader focus also includes the effects our operations have on biodiversity, animal welfare and more.
To continue improving in these areas, we are seeking out more data and applying the findings to our facilities around the world. For example, a partnership with EnTech USB helps us translate our utility bills into greenhouse gas values, which we can use to improve energy efficiency. Our efforts also include more detailed reporting on our water footprints, energy footprints and carbon footprints; engaging stakeholders to find partners who can help us create mutually beneficial, sustainable solutions; and designing additional assessments to better understand the scope and scale of the effects of our global operations.
While maintaining a strong work ethic and focus on efficiency, our employees remain our ambassadors of global citizenship and environmental stewardship. Via our invaluable Green Teams, resourceful Sigma-Aldrich employees are expressing our passion for sustainability through community service. They're also changing day-to-day habits and practices within our offices to help create a more sustainable tomorrow.
In 2012, we implemented a total cost of ownership program that emphasized total cost analysis. The program focuses on how processes can be improved, the sustainability of raw materials supply and improving yields to reduce the carbon footprint. One aspect of this program is working with our suppliers to consolidate our freight in daily or weekly shipments to minimize the number of shipments. The program is being rolled out globally and we expect to see continued improvements and sustainable impacts through working with our suppliers.
It is the policy of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation to provide small business concerns, including veteran-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses and women owned small businesses the maximum practical opportunity to compete for the procurement of goods and services. This commitment extends to the procurement of goods and services according to our Procurement policy, whether the purchases eventually support sales under Sigma-Aldrich’s General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Contract, sales to state or local governments, sales to academic and other industry customers or in-house needs. We are committed to maintaining an effective supplier diversity program that is consistent with contractual expectations and that maximizes procurement opportunities for Small Business Concerns to the fullest extent consistent with efficient performance.
In 2012, Sigma-Aldrich was able to increase its SBE expenditures by 6% and also improved its system to allow Small Businesses to more easily reach procurement and to communicate the goods and/or services new companies can offer.
The improvements in processes and system functionality that we implemented in 2011 enabled us to expand our Air to Ocean Project in 2012. By analyzing all of the ocean routes we use to move product and raw materials, starting with shipments leaving our Teutonia facility in Milwaukee and following the shipment to its final destination at our Schnelldorf facility in Germany, we were able to make significant improvements in the total transit time. Our initial transit time took approximately 30 days. Through process improvements, we are able to make the same shipment in 19 days. This reduction in lead time allows us to ship more of our slow selling products via ocean as opposed to air without having to worry about back-orders or service issues for our customers. Some of the changes we made to accomplish this include loading the container on site versus consolidating at a freight forwarder and trucking our containers directly to the port in New York versus using rail. The successful implementation of this project increased our volume of ocean freight from 200 tonnes in 2011 to 350 tonnes in 2012, equating to significant cost savings and reducing our CO2 emissions by 701 tonnes.
In 2013, we will expand the project to include hazardous materials that will have a much higher impact in freight savings since these products are extremely costly to ship via air. We will also continue to optimize our route planning to further decrease the transit time with a goal of reducing it to 15 days. We plan to optimize other ocean lanes such as our route from Germany to India.
Our large manufacturing footprint creates the opportunity for us to better manage assets through increased communication between facilities. In 2012, we were able to redeploy seven major assets to different locations in our manufacturing network, which reduced the need to purchase new equipment enabling us to be more conscious of resource usage and reusing our existing assets. We were also able resale 40 items into a used secondary market. This program delivered substantial savings to the organization in 2012, and kept more than 10,000 pounds of waste from entering landfills.
The Virtual Boxing project was implemented in our Milwaukee Distribution Center during the first quarter of 2011, with the goal of reducing the number of boxes used to ship products to our customers in the United States and around the world. The project involved installing systems to evaluate customers’ orders and to determine how best to package shipments to insure customers receive a quality product and to ensure that shipments are in compliance with regulations for shipping hazardous materials. For 2012, we estimate the number of boxes saved due to Virtual Boxing at 62,000, accounting for about 30,000 pounds of cardboard. Over the life of the project to date, the number of boxes saved is estimated at 125,000.
The St. Louis Green Team is the longest serving sustainability related employee volunteer group at Sigma-Aldrich. Through its tenure, the Green Team has pushed for policy change and has driven waste reduction and increased recycling rates. They’ve also engaged employees with opportunities to volunteer at environmental clean-up days and electronics recycling days at work. The Green Team has also been active in the greater St. Louis community through the St. Louis Regional Chambers Green Business Challenge. This gives employees the opportunity to network, collaborate and learn from other businesses in the area and to share the progress and approaches that Sigma-Aldrich has used. In 2012, the Green Team introduced a No Idling Policy at St. Louis sites to decrease unnecessary emissions from vehicles on site. While it’s not possible to measure the impact of this change, the policy change is a move in the right direction to reduce unnecessary resource usage and to decrease pollution, while improving air quality. The team also introduced a holiday lights recycling program in conjunction with a wider St. Louis area initiative. After the holidays, employees were able to bring in their non-working holiday lights that would then be 100% recycled.
The Green Team has an ambitious plan for 2013, which includes projects that have local, domestic and international reach:
A customer’s feedback led to the review of the process used to manufacture Benzoxazole. We discovered that a polar impurity on TLC was remaining undetected, which allowed the product to continue to be released. We incorporated the TLC as part of the specifications, based on this feedback. Through careful review, we confirmed that the first step amide intermediate, which was not being eluted on gas chromatography, was carried through into the final product as the impurity. In the subsequent batches, the process was modified and after distillation an additional re-crystallization step was included to meet the new specifications. During this time, we saw an opportunity for a greener chemistry development where a catalytic process was introduced to transform the starter into the final product; thus removing all of the tedious purification steps producing a simple and greener synthetic route.
Ethyl acetohydroxamate is produced at our facility in Buchs, Switzerland, through a two-step process. Previously when we manufactured the product a mixture of water and diethyl ether was used. By using a greener chemistry lens, it was envisioned to replace the organic phase diethyl ether by the less hazardous tert-butyl methyl ether. The goal of this reformulation project was to substitute diethyl ether in the reaction with a safer manageable solvent. The main concern was the use of tert-butyl methyl ether because of the close boiling point (55-56°C) to the product (55-58°C/6 mmHg). It was assumed that this would highly complicate concentration and isolation of the product. Fortunately our R&D demonstrated that this was not the case and the product could be isolated with comparable yield (65%) without any problems. Furthermore, the crude product obtained after evaporation of the residual solvent was already the required purity and the previously required distillation was eliminated.
Creativity provided an energy saving solution at our newly acquired facility in Rockville, MD in 2012. Facilities purchased landscaping cloth and draped the exterior skylights at the facility. The landscaping cloth allowed light to pass through to light the facility, but also helped reduce the core temperature of the atrium by up to five degrees, which in turn reduced the HVAC requirements.
(+)-Menthone is synthesised from (+)-menthol by oxidation with calcium hypochlorite. The reaction was previously run with 0.76 equivalent of Ca(OCl)2 under batch conditions using dichloromethan for extractions. The goal of this reformulation project was to improve process safety avoiding accumulation of starting materials and replacing the halogenated solvent used for the workup. By the addition of catalytic amounts of potassium bromide and a slight increase of the process temperature the reaction rate could be increased dramatically. To avoid batch process conditions with potential accumulation of starting materials, the reagent addition sequence was slightly adapted. The Ca(OCl)2 is added in portions to the reaction mixture with an instant reduction of the oxidizing agent concentration. In addition, both the reaction time (4.5 h vs. 10 min) and the Ca(OCl)2 equivalents (0.76 vs 0.58 eq.) could be decreased. Furthermore, the undesired chlorinated solvent dichloromethane previously used for extractions could be replaced by pentane.
Engineers at our Bangalore facility were able to reduce the amount of time air compressors were running by switching the “cut-in” and “cut-off” pressure switch from the compressor to receiver tank. Through this small change, the running time of the compressor was reduced from 22 hours to eight hours increasing energy savings.
In 2011, we developed a new process for product 656453-bulk [1,3,5-Tris(4-iodophenyl)benzene] with a green score of +74.44. Using the same green methodology that was utilized in 2011, we proposed a new product for the catalog and synthesized with more than 99% purity. This product is now available in the catalog (Catalog No. 764671). This is an example of using the learning’s from our previous green chemistry work to enrich our product database. The synthetic route involved the cyclo-trimerization of the substituted 2-methylacetophenone to generate the title compound. The synthetic route resulted in a greener product that is easier to handle.
Our goal of providing consumers with safe, efficient and environmentally responsible products starts with making sure that our customers receive full disclosure as to why certain products may be more sustainable than others. Currently, there is no reasonable quantitative standard in our industry that explains a product’s environmental impact. A consistent and easy-to-understand system is an important tool to help consumers make informed decisions about “greener” products.
To address this issue, we launched a project to quantitatively determine relative “greenness” of a product based on the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.
The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, originally published by Paul Anastas, Ph.D. and John Warner, Ph.D. in Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press: New York, 1998)
We continue to fine tune our algorithms that use readily available manufacturing and safety data to generate individual “scores” for each principle as well as an overall weighted score. In collaboration with our World Green Chemistry Committee, the system has been applied to an extended group of products. We are in the final stages of finishing the review of our methodology by an outside third party. In our 2011 report, we communicated that we would have all of the products in the Greener Alternatives section scored by the end of 2013, due to increased review cycles, we now plan to have all manufactured products scored by the end of 2013 and we plan to release the information on our website so consumers have access to a simple and effective methodology giving them a better understanding of environmentally conscious, alternative options. We are working with our procurement team to collaborate with vendors of these products so we can get the information needed to score the products and to provide that detail to customers.
The Greener Alternative Matrix is not only going to be applied to our Greener Alternative Product line. We also plan to integrate this system into our manufacturing procedures so as we develop and modify the way we make our products, the system can serve as a standard to encourage more efficient and sustainable processes. We are working to make the system fully automated using internal data so the matrix can fit seamlessly into product designs and protocols. Sigma-Aldrich’s commitment to being a leader in green chemistry drives its goal to develop cleaner, safer and more efficient products with a new level of transparency through the Greener Alternative Matrix, providing our customers with a better understanding of how we are living up to that mission.
BioReliance provides specialized toxicology (Genetic Toxicology) and Biologics Safety Testing services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, life sciences and other industries. These services are provided from facilities in the US and UK. Studies including mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters are performed, where appropriate, in order to supply our clients with services that meet international regulatory requirements and guidelines for the testing and manufacturing of their products. Throughout its business, BioReliance adheres to the highest standards of humane, responsible animal care. The company is in full compliance with all NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare policies (US), all criteria outlined by the US Public Health Service’s (PHS) “Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” and is licensed in accordance with the UK Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) after transposition of European Directive 2010/63/EU. BioReliance also complies with the requirements of the US Animal Welfare Act (AWA) which is administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Finally, BioReliance actively implements the practice of “The 3 R’s” - Reduce, Refine and Replace – and encourages the adoption of these principles by our clients. BioReliance is fully accredited by AAALAC International (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care). The use of animals is monitored by our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee which evaluates all proposed protocols for compliance to global animal welfare regulations.
Since 2005, Sigma-Aldrich has steadily reduced the number of catalogs printed and distributed to our customers around the world. In 2005, more than 1.3 million catalogs were printed and distributed. That number was reduced to 750,000 in 2012. We’ve also worked to make better use of the space on each page by improving how information is displayed, which helps to reduce our page counts. These changes have allowed us to reduce paper consumption in the past seven years by 50% or 4.8 million lbs.Another step we’ve taken to reduce the number of printing cycles for catalogs is to extend the lifespan of each book. Our flagship catalogs, the Sigma Life Science catalog and the Aldrich catalog, used to be printed bi-annually, those cycles have now been extended to between 36 and 48 months.
To respond to our customers’ desire for digital content, we’ve started developing and publishing content specifically for mobile use - giving the next generation of scientists and our sales teams ease of access to valuable scientific information. We have also transitioned to providing more of our newsletters in an “e” format, helping to reduce the amount of paper needed for newsletter production. By making this change, we have reduced newsletter printing by 43% since 2009 and we expect that number to increase to 57%, or 224,000 lbs. of paper by the end of 2013. We have also committed to printing our newsletters and other printed collateral on FSC certified paper that uses Green Power when manufactured.