Sustainable operations, sustainable planet

One of Roche’s goals for the next decade is to reduce total environmental impact by half. Toward that ambition, Diagnostics Global Operations has been focusing on efforts that make the manufacturing, packaging and shipping of our products as sustainable as possible.

Examples of this can be found throughout our global manufacturing and supply chain network, which includes more than 7,000 employees and nine operations sites worldwide. This network produces and delivers approximately 29 billion healthcare tests annually used by doctors and clinicians across the globe to identify and diagnose disease.

Sustainable buildings

Sustainable manufacturing starts with sustainable infrastructure.

For example, the Suzhou site in China integrates several environmentally friendly features in line with LEED green building certification standards. The operation site’s sustainability solutions promote energy efficiency through:

  • Minimising energy needs: Thicker insulation, solar-protective glazing and fixed window shadings

  • Integrating energy efficiency features: Decentralised air conditioning and LED lighting

  • Generating green energy: A solar panel system produces enough electricity from sunlight to cover almost 80% of the energy needs of the administration building – or enough to power almost 500 private homes for an entire year

Site expansions also emphasise sustainability. Case in point is our Branchburg, New Jersey, U.S. operations site, where an additional manufacturing building and on-campus warehouse will be operating with zero increase in total carbon emissions. Powered by 100% sustainable energy, the site recently underwent renovations in the main administration building introducing motion-activated, energy-efficient LED lighting, solar window shades and electric vehicle charging stations.

A 3,000-square-foot rooftop garden above the cafe courtyard is home to grass, air-plants and plenty of self-caring foliage that can help remove pollutants from the air. Sustainable water retaining trays collect rain to manage and repurpose storm-water run-off.

At the Mannheim, Germany site, Roche’s third-largest worldwide, CO2 emissions have been reduced by half in recent years by exclusively using green electricity and heating buildings with steam from thermal waste recycling. Roche in Mannheim is also home to Germany’s largest cold water storage tank, which massively reduces the energy required for cooling in the production process. In the next two years, we will build a new distribution centre for Europe in Mannheim that will be the first emission-free building on the Mannheim campus.

The Penzberg site, south of Munich, has another highlight to offer: Here, energy is generated from wastewater by means of a wastewater treatment plant. The resulting sewage gas is burned in the combined heat and power plant and used to generate electricity. The waste heat is fed into the local heating network. This transformed the site’s wastewater treatment plant from an energy consumer to an energy producer.

In Mannheim, a new logistics centre will be the first CO2-neutral building on campus.

Sustainable manufacturing

Around the world, Roche manufacturing is working toward paperless factories. By using electronic systems that plan for and track assembly processes in real-time, we are minimising our usage of paper.

In Suzhou, operations implemented paperless manufacturing from the get-go by adopting electronic manufacturing instructions and records and utilising mobile devices to digitally track the movement of goods.

We are using a computerised system in Mannheim and Penzberg to track and document production steps from raw materials to finished goods. The system provides real-time information on current shop floor conditions, which helps to optimise processes and improve production output. In addition to paperless workflows, it helps us reduce waste, re-works and scrap.

Laboratory teams in those locations also are using an information management system to manage the flow of assay samples and associated data most effectively without paper.

In Branchburg, cold-storage cooling systems are free of ozone-depleting substances. In our manufacturing processes, we have increased production in reusable vessels for much of our bulk reagents, resulting in less plastic waste generation. In addition, we have optimised our production processes to reduce water and chemical use during cleaning cycles. And, we’re working toward our established goals to reduce general waste and increase recycling to at least 80% of general waste.

Manufacturing personnel in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. are now wearing reusable shoe covers in laboratories, keeping approximately 296,000 disposable shoe covers out of landfills every year. Shoe covers are a required part of personal protective equipment for environmentally controlled laboratories to ensure the consistency and quality of Roche products.

In Penzberg, a chemical manufacturing process was improved with an eye toward sustainability, leading to a reduction of organic solvent consumption of 65 tons per year (approximately 40% reduction), while production volume of the product increased by more than 60%.

Operations teams in Rotkreuz, Switzerland, are using a new, more sustainable decontamination process for devices, instruments, equipment and reusable product components that become contaminated from use in labs or other places. This new, fully automated decontamination chamber utilises chemicals that are environmentally friendly and also relatively harmless to humans.

Sustainable delivery

When it is time to package and ship our products, we do so in an environmentally conscious manner.

We consciously choose our means of transportation and, whenever possible, we prefer sea or land freight over air freight. We are also constantly trying to reduce packaging and cooling material and reuse wherever possible.

Roche in Tucson recently started using 2D barcodes as the data carrier solution for tissue diagnostics consumable products. Previously, the products used an iButton system, which required attaching small metal buttons to each box.

Using 2D barcodes instead of iButtons is reducing environmental waste, as nearly 5 million non-recyclable iButtons and sticky pads were used every year. 2D barcodes printed on stickers and applied to boxes are fully recyclable.

Operations personnel in Tucson also recently implemented more-sustainable packaging for large tissue diagnostic systems used widely by hospitals and laboratories.

In just one example, theis using 40% fewer raw materials and weighs less to provide a smaller carbon footprint while being transported.

At Roche Diagnostics, sustainability is a priority. From start to finish, our operations emphasise quality, delivery and environmental stewardship.

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