As a responsible corporate citizen, Thermo Fisher is committed to protecting the environment by minimizing our impact in the communities where we operate. Leveraging our PPI Business System and our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management System, we continually look for ways to improve our processes, protect the environment and reduce waste. This commitment inspires us to create a culture in which our colleagues are involved in piloting process improvements that protect them and the environment, reduce the energy and water we consume and the waste we generate. Thermo Fisher is committed to reducing emissions, releases and waste as a signatory to the UN Global Compact and dedicated to transparency through participation in CDP reporting. For more details, see our annual CDP disclosure on scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Thermo Fisher is a legacy CDP responder, having responded annually for over 10 years.
As the world leader in serving science, Thermo Fisher has alignment with the scientific community’s findings on human contribution to climate change. We recently committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in addition to our earlier commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. Our approach to achieving this target is anchored in the framework of process optimization, built-environment efficiency and renewable sourcing. We’re making progress by reducing energy use in our facilities, developing greener products and helping our customers achieve their own environmental stewardship goals.
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Combating climate change is integral to Thermo Fisher’s short- and long-term business strategy. Our approach to achieving our goals relies on our PPI Business System, and is anchored in a framework of process optimization, built-environment efficiency, and renewable sourcing.
In 2020, we observed an increase in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions due to the growth of our business as we responded to COVID-19. While corporate revenue grew 26 percent for the year, our CO₂ emissions increased just 3 percent over the prior year. We were able to curb further increases in our carbon footprint because of well-planned renewable electricity projects that came online in 2020. In fact, absolute Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity saw a slight decrease compared to the prior year in spite of our adding significant infrastructure and capacity to keep pace with customer demand.
At our site in Brno, Czech Republic, we manufacture electron microscopes, which allow scientists to study viruses, develop new materials, and analyze harmful particles in the air and water. The production of this critical equipment requires cleanrooms: controlled environments maintained by a tremendous amount of energy. Driven by our 2030 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%,1 a rooftop photovoltaic power plant was installed at the Brno site in October 2020. A source of clean renewable electricity, this tailor-made system brings the site's energy production one step closer to carbon neutrality. With 2,499 solar modules spanning nearly 97,000 square feet, the power produced by the new system is equal to an estimated one million kilowatt hours annually—enough to power almost 200 homes. Directly suppling the site with green energy allows us to meet our needs in Brno while saving the equivalent of 1,055 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
In 2015, Thermo Fisher committed to reducing the environmental impact of our cold storage platform. This White House pledge was the first of its kind in the lab products industry, transitioning potent hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to lower-emitting refrigerants, and halving the energy consumption of our cold storage portfolio by 2020. Over the five-year period, we achieved the energy reduction target and have converted more than 95% of cold storage refrigerants to eco-friendly, natural alternatives. This work has reduced the environmental impact of running our cold storage portfolio, including for our ultra-low temperature freezers, which saw marked production increases in 2020 as they are instrumental in supporting COVID-19 vaccine storage and distribution.
Our involvement in the pandemic response delayed our ability to convert the final <5% of refrigerants to greener options as planned for 2020. Over the course of 2021, the final set of small, under- counter cold storage units that use HFCs will be transitioned to lower-emitting refrigerants.
Continually working to minimize our impact on the environment, we actively seek opportunities to reduce the amount of waste generated through our operations. Our Zero Waste program is implemented at the site level to closely manage our waste streams.
We define “zero waste” as diverting 90 percent or more waste from landfill through reuse, recycling and, as a last resort, incineration, when used to generate energy. Our efforts are targeted at reducing the amount of waste we generate and send to landfill while lowering our operating costs.
Through our Zero Waste Playbook, we provide our sites guidance for working toward Zero Waste certification. A five-step process, powered by our PPI Business System, engages our colleagues to implement waste-minimizing changes in processes and procurement strategies.
For more information on our waste initiatives, visit our Product End of Life page.
Water is essential to the well-being of all people and the planet, and good-quality freshwater is also a vital component for the successful production of our products. With increased demand for this natural resource, we have developed systems for our sites that allow water to be reused and recycled. This enables greater production efficiency and reduces energy consumption when reheating water for steam processes.
In 2020, Thermo Fisher’s water usage increased over prior years due to substantial production increases driven by our COVID-19 response. Continuing to explore strategies for minimizing our operational impact, we undertake water-related risk assessments and use the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct tool to confirm we do not operate water-intensive operations in water-scarce regions. In line with our culture of continuous improvement, we also actively review sites for initiatives that can reduce water consumption.