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Our Environment

The dedication and passion we bring to our mission of improving patient lives is also reflected in our efforts to improve our operational impact on the environment and our strong sustainability policies.  

We strive to be a catalyst for positive change by addressing environmental impacts resulting from our business, including carbon and water, and by increasing the environmental and social performance of our supply chain.

We embrace green chemistry as an opportunity to improve sustainability in our operations, and we continue to find new and better ways to minimize waste and maintain zero waste to landfill in our manufacturing facilities.

  Our Environment

The dedication and passion we bring to our mission of improving patient lives is also reflected in our efforts to improve our operational impact on the environment and our strong sustainability policies.  

We strive to be a catalyst for positive change by addressing environmental impacts resulting from our business, including carbon and water, and by increasing the environmental and social performance of our supply chain.

We embrace green chemistry as an opportunity to improve sustainability in our operations, and we continue to find new and better ways to minimize waste and maintain zero waste to landfill in our manufacturing facilities.

Our Focus

Climate & Carbon Strategy

We are a science-based company and employ science in our approach to resource use as well as in our day-to-day business operations. We strive to mitigate our negative impacts – for example, by ensuring our own operations are carbon neutral – and to extend our impact by encouraging other companies we do business with to adopt responsible environmental and energy policies.  

Biogen has committed to utilizing a science-based approach when it comes to managing environmental resources, which includes adopting a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative. Our practice of using science to inform our targets when possible is part of our broader commitment to Context-Based Sustainability, a rapidly evolving, cutting-edge approach to managing sustainability performance that takes resource needs and limits in the world explicitly into account.

Businesses must take action to address the GHG emissions from their own operations, and they must also help reduce emissions from their suppliers. For Biogen, this means implementing voluntary reductions in GHG emissions by improving the energy efficiency of our operations and products, by transitioning to low-carbon energy and by advocating for reductions across our supply chain.

We have been a carbon neutral company since 2014, investing in environmental projects that reduce and offset the carbon emissions associated with our own operations. (To align with our strategic plan, the scope of our carbon neutrality shifted in 2017 from our total value chain to our own operations.)

Our approach to carbon reductions in our owned operations includes promoting manufacturing innovation and process changes, generating our own energy and investing in more efficient and healthier buildings. This approach has led to a 75 percent reduction in our Scope 1 and 2 carbon intensity, compared to 2006.

As we move forward, our plan will be to continue searching for innovative ways to further reduce our own emissions and those of our suppliers, while decreasing our need for carbon offsets.

Read more about our position on climate change.

Water

Water is used throughout our operations: as part of our production process, it is used to sterilize and clean equipment, for irrigation and elsewhere throughout our offices and manufacturing operations. We consistently focus on ways to reduce water use, increase water recycling and make sure our wastewater treatment practices adhere to the highest quality and safety standards.

To assess water use at all of our major operational facilities, we have committed to utilizing a context-based water standard, which makes it possible to assess water withdrawal relative to locally available renewable supplies.

Using this approach, our water goals are to re-assess water use at all our major facilities using a context-based water metric by 2019 and to ensure that by 2030 our water withdrawals at each of our major facilities are within our “fair, just and proportionate” share of locally available renewable supply. Simultaneously, our previous water intensity metric will continue to be used internally to drive and communicate operational efficiency.

In 2017 absolute potable water use shrank by 11 percent, with potable water intensity down 17 percent, primarily due to shrinking operations at the Cambridge campus.

Green Chemistry

Our approach to green chemistry focuses on ways to make our drug discovery and development processes safer, more efficient and more sustainable. We find that when we do this, we usually lower our costs at the same time – a true win-win.

Internally, our green chemistry program helps drive process innovations that improve product performance and deliver environmental benefits, such as lower water usage and reduced climate impact. In addition, we make use of green chemistry concepts focused on increasing chemical process efficiency, reducing waste and optimizing materials used.

Externally, we are working to effect change throughout our industry. Biogen staff now chair the green chemistry working group of the International Consortium of Innovation & Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (the IQ Consortium). We are also members of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry Roundtable, a collaborative initiative encouraging innovation while catalyzing the integration of green chemistry and green engineering in the pharmaceutical industry.

Spotlight Stories

Sustainability in the Antisense Oligonucleotide (ASO) Purification Process

In 2017 Biogen opened a new facility in Research Triangle Park for the synthesis of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), which are modified RNA molecules used in the treatment of neurological disorders. This new ASO facility and manufacturing platform will produce materials for both our clinical pipeline and commercial products.

Our prior ASO purification process used flammable solvents, such as ethanol and methanol, which created hazardous waste. Utilizing green chemistry best practices, a cross-functional team developed a new, more responsible process, replacing the use of ethanol and methanol with a method using salts and water. In addition, we also simplified our filtration process and replaced lyophilization with an ultrafiltration technology that enables a ready-to-fill drug substance.

This improved purification process eliminates all solvents in downstream processing, removing over 1,500 liters of hazardous waste per kilogram of product produced. In addition, cycle times are decreased by 50 percent, and the amounts of material, water and energy used – and associated GHG emissions – are also reduced. Finally, the new approach significantly improves the product’s purity levels, making it industry-leading and ensuring we are able to deliver the best quality product for patients.

The first clinical batch of ASO was successfully manufactured with this new process in November 2017.

Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer Energy Savings Project

Our employees are continually looking for ways to not only bring savings to the company but also reduce our environmental impact.

While looking at the company’s energy use in our laboratories, two employees at our Cambridge R&D facility identified the opportunity to significantly decrease the cost and energy consumption of ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers. Encouraged by their findings, our employees formed a cross functional team of lab service personnel, scientists and engineers to develop a plan to replace old freezers with new ones that use 70 percent less energy.

Replacing old freezers with new energy efficient models meant the company was able to secure rebates for the new purchases, which was pooled and reinvested to encourage replacement of additional freezers. In addition, the team worked with procurement to flag and limit the purchase of any non-energy efficient freezer purchases in the future.

The team also explored other ways to reduce energy consumption in the labs. They partnered with researchers to identify current -80C freezers that could be modified to a use a set point of -70C. This change yielded an additional energy savings of 20 percent annually for each freezer that had its set point changed.

The team members are continuing their efforts and are energized by the potential to expand this model beyond freezers and outside the lab. They continue to promote expansion of this approach throughout our manufacturing facilities.

In recognition of their work on this initiative, the project team earned Biogen’s 2018 Global BeSustainable Award.

Sustainability in the Antisense Oligonucleotide (ASO) Purification Process

In 2017 Biogen opened a new facility in Research Triangle Park for the synthesis of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), which are modified RNA molecules used in the treatment of neurological disorders. This new ASO facility and manufacturing platform will produce materials for both our clinical pipeline and commercial products.

Our prior ASO purification process used flammable solvents, such as ethanol and methanol, which created hazardous waste. Utilizing green chemistry best practices, a cross-functional team developed a new, more responsible process, replacing the use of ethanol and methanol with a method using salts and water. In addition, we also simplified our filtration process and replaced lyophilization with an ultrafiltration technology that enables a ready-to-fill drug substance.

This improved purification process eliminates all solvents in downstream processing, removing over 1,500 liters of hazardous waste per kilogram of product produced. In addition, cycle times are decreased by 50 percent, and the amounts of material, water and energy used – and associated GHG emissions – are also reduced. Finally, the new approach significantly improves the product’s purity levels, making it industry-leading and ensuring we are able to deliver the best quality product for patients.

The first clinical batch of ASO was successfully manufactured with this new process in November 2017.

Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer Energy Savings Project

Our employees are continually looking for ways to not only bring savings to the company but also reduce our environmental impact.

While looking at the company’s energy use in our laboratories, two employees at our Cambridge R&D facility identified the opportunity to significantly decrease the cost and energy consumption of ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers. Encouraged by their findings, our employees formed a cross functional team of lab service personnel, scientists and engineers to develop a plan to replace old freezers with new ones that use 70 percent less energy.

Replacing old freezers with new energy efficient models meant the company was able to secure rebates for the new purchases, which was pooled and reinvested to encourage replacement of additional freezers. In addition, the team worked with procurement to flag and limit the purchase of any non-energy efficient freezer purchases in the future.

The team also explored other ways to reduce energy consumption in the labs. They partnered with researchers to identify current -80C freezers that could be modified to a use a set point of -70C. This change yielded an additional energy savings of 20 percent annually for each freezer that had its set point changed.

The team members are continuing their efforts and are energized by the potential to expand this model beyond freezers and outside the lab. They continue to promote expansion of this approach throughout our manufacturing facilities.

In recognition of their work on this initiative, the project team earned Biogen’s 2018 Global BeSustainable Award.

Goals and Commitments

As Biogen grows, we remain committed to reducing our environmental footprint by maintaining our carbon neutral status and minimizing and eventually restoring resources needed to manufacture our therapies. Our goals and commitments include:

 

  • Maintain Carbon Neutrality across our own operations (since 2014)
  • Continue to match 100% of our electricity use with electricity produced from renewable sources, our public commitment to the RE100 initiative since 2014
  • Reduce our absolute carbon footprint by 35% by 2030 compared to 2013
  • Assess our water use and keep use within our determined ‘fair, just and proportional share’
  • Maintain Zero Waste to Landfill for our manufacturing facilities
  • Continue to leverage our 2020 intensity-based metrics for internal operational excellence and benchmarking
  • Engage with key suppliers to expand ESG risk screening for Tier I and Tier II suppliers (in 2017, we engaged with ten suppliers representing 36% of our supply chain total GHG emissions)

2017 Goals and Performance

75%

reduction in operational carbon intensity since 2006¹

Carbon Neutral

company since 2014

100%

renewable power commitment

ZWL

maintained zero waste-to-landfill (ZWL) status

36%

engaged with ten suppliers representing 36% of our supply chain total GHG emissions

94%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing carbon intensity by 2020

42%

absolute increase in value chain carbon emissions² See GRI Data Table footnotes 3 and 4 for more details

70.9%

reduction in potable water intensity³

89%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing potable water intensity by 2020

60.2%

recovery and recycling rate (reuse, recycle, compost, non-combustion energy recovery)

42%

absolute reduction in value chain carbon emissions*

35%

absolute reduction by 2030

74%

reduction in carbon intensity**

93%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing carbon intensity by 2020

70.9%

reduction in potable water intensity

89%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing potable water intensity by 2020

60.2%

recovery and recycling rate (reuse, recycle, compost, non-combustion energy recovery)

100%

of electricity used matched with electricity produced from renewable sources such as offshore wind in Denmark, Biomethane in Japan, and onshore wind in the United States

75%

reduction in operational carbon intensity since 2006¹

100%
renewable power commitment
2014
carbon neutral company since 2014
36%
Engaged with ten suppliers representing 36% of our supply chain total GHG emissions
0
Maintained zero waste-to-landfill (ZWL) status at three manufacturing facilities (Cambridge, RTP Drug Substance and Hillerød) as well as achieving ZWL status at our Weston office building for the first time
5,133
students along with 524 employee volunteers participated in our Community Lab programs to learn more about science and technology

2017 Goals and Performance

75%

reduction in operational carbon intensity since 2006¹

Carbon Neutral

company since 2014

100%

renewable power commitment

ZWL

maintained zero waste-to-landfill (ZWL) status

36%

engaged with ten suppliers representing 36% of our supply chain total GHG emissions

94%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing carbon intensity by 2020

42%

absolute increase in value chain carbon emissions² See GRI Data Table footnotes 3 and 4 for more details

70.9%

reduction in potable water intensity³

89%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing potable water intensity by 2020

60.2%

recovery and recycling rate (reuse, recycle, compost, non-combustion energy recovery)

2017 Goals and Performance

75%

reduction in operational carbon intensity since 2006¹

Carbon Neutral

company since 2014

100%

renewable power commitment

ZWL

maintained zero waste-to-landfill (ZWL) status

36%

engaged with ten suppliers representing 36% of our supply chain total GHG emissions

94%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing carbon intensity by 2020

42%

absolute increase in value chain carbon emissions² See GRI Data Table footnotes 3 and 4 for more details

70.9%

reduction in potable water intensity³

89%

of the way to reaching our goal of reducing potable water intensity by 2020

60.2%

recovery and recycling rate (reuse, recycle, compost, non-combustion energy recovery)

Footnotes:

  1. Based on 2006 baseline, MTCO2e / million $ revenue. Please note Biogen is using science and context-based goals but will continue to leverage intensity-based metrics for internal operational excellence and benchmarking.
  2. Based on 2013 baseline
  3. Based on 2006 baseline, cubic meters / million $ revenue