Philanthropic partnership with ETH Zurich

As a global healthcare pioneer dedicated to improving people’s lives, advancing science and technology are at the core of our business and philanthropic efforts. One of the four focus areas of our corporate philanthropy is supporting science education initiatives, and in particular, promoting innovation and providing access to opportunities for young people around the world.

In 2017, we partnered with ETH Zurich, the internationally top-ranking university in Switzerland, to enable ten PhD students and postdoctoral scientist from developing countries to attend the 14th International Conference on the Biochemistry of Trace Elements (ICOBTE) held in Zurich. Switzerland is a country considered at the international forefront of environmental protection due to its long history and broad experience in coping with environmental pollution issues.

The bi-annual ICOBTE conferences serve as a platform for scientific exchange about ways to address the behaviour, fate and management of trace elements in the environment and issues such as: mobility and turnover, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, toxicity, risk management, contaminated site remediation, and regulatory protocols.

We also sponsored a technical excursion for conference participants to learn about corporate responsibility and an innovative approach toward remediating a former landfill. About 20 young scientists from countries including India, Brazil, Russia, Chile, Japan, Poland, Pakistan, Mexico, China and Iran were hosted at the visitor centre of Roche’s Kesslergrube remediation project, a former landfill in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany.

“For us it is essential to open our doors and show what Roche is doing. We take responsibility for past actions and like to share our experience to foster sustainable approaches toward waste management,” said Richard Huerzeler, Kesslergrube project lead and Chief Remediation Officer at Roche. “Showing our remediation approach to the young scientists was an exciting experience for me. Many of them are experts in environmental sciences and we had very good and engaging discussions.”

Teotônio Soares de Carvalho, a post-doc researcher in soil sciences at The University of Lavras, Brazil, said, “I have never heard of a remediation approach like this before. It was interesting to get an insight into the processes and the technologies used. That was a great addition to my research.”

At Roche we believe in improving access to education and real-world science skills. We open our doors to show young people what we do and engage them to become scientists and the next generation of innovators.

Protection of the environment matters

At Roche we are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and safe environment for all. Protecting people and the environment isn’t just a legal or social obligation; it is integral to our operations. We approach it with the same commitment as any business-related activity, striving for continuous improvement wherever possible. For the environment – one element of our sustainability concept – this doesn’t only include our attempts in minimising our ecological footprint and with that reducing the environmental impacts of our products and operations. This also applies to our actions in the past: We accept responsibility for all waste generated at our operations, including waste previously deposited at our sites or landfills. We believe that existing landfills containing hazardous wastes threatening the environment should be addressed proactively and the issue should be resolved entirely and sustainably. One example for our remediation activities is the Kesslergrube in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Germany. The remediation of the former landfill begun in September 2015.

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