How can a supplier or subcontractor contribute to the sustainability efforts of a major medical company? Elos Medtech has been a first-tier supplier to one of our strategic customers for several years, and in 2019, we began a mutual process toward greater sustainability. Through a series of measures at our production site in Tianjin, China, we seek to ensure sustainable production of medical devices and help our customers and partners reduce their environmental impact.

Setting up a sustainability roadmap for zero CO₂ emissions

In November 2019, representatives of one of our strategic customers and Elos Medtech came together to create a plan for how to work toward greater sustainability. Our customer has set an ambitious goal: Circular for Zero – to have zero CO₂ emissions from operations and transportation by 2030. The company works dedicatedly with its supply chain as well as its own products and production processes to see what changes can be made in order to achieve this goal.

A key result of the workshop last fall was a roadmap for what Elos Medtech could do to assist our customer in their sustainability effort. The roadmap includes processes that were already in operation at the time, such as our wastewater treatment facility in China; other processes were new and initiated shortly after the workshop. The coronavirus pandemic has subsequently forced certain time schedules to be adjusted. However, we are proud to say that the work proceeds at a great pace.

Renewable energy certificates allow us to invest in green electricity

Even prior to our sustainability efforts together with our customer, Elos Medtech sought to use solar power for our production site in Tianjin. Unfortunately, this has not yet been possible to achieve in practice. To increase our ability to use green electricity in the future, however, we invest in renewable energy certificates. Investing in renewable energy certificates means that renewable energy is generated on your behalf, and provided to the power grid. It is a practical way in which we can reduce our environmental impact, and we will continue to invest in these certificates.

Investing in energy-efficient machinery and vehicles

By mapping our production processes, we can determine which of them require the most energy. That in turn allows us to make more detailed efforts to reduce energy consumption in these segments. As such, we have invested in new, energy-efficient machinery in Tianjin, including air compressors. This year, we have also replaced all the transfer service buses for our personnel in China. The new buses are more fuel-efficient and produce considerably less emissions.

By recycling water, we are able to reuse a lot of it in our production

Our production processes generally require a lot of water. We measure our water consumption, and set up goals for how much water may be used in the production of each component. Some of our products also require extensive chemical surface treatment. Previously, we used a third-party supplier for our water purification process. As of January 2019, however, we use our own wastewater treatment facility to do that.

Purifying the water at our facility means that we collect the chemicals quickly and efficiently, while the clean water can be reused again and again in our production. With northern China being a water-stressed area, it is vital that we do what we can to reduce water scarcity.

Working with our supply chain to reduce material consumption

Just like our customer is working with their supply chain to ensure a sustainable production of medical devices, we are working with ours. It is a process we have initiated, and expect to work with more extensively in 2021 and beyond. In particular, we are looking at how our subcontractors and raw material suppliers work with sustainability.

Working together with our customers and partners enables us to become a more sustainable company, and help them in their sustainability efforts. It also means that we can bring certain ideas and methods to our suppliers and subcontractors as well, and show how they can ensure sustainability in their work processes.

We are proud to be working together with our customer and their response to our sustainability efforts has been positive and enthusiastic. Providing sustainable, innovative products and solutions for the global medical device market are essential to who we are as a company. Our three “Care Areas” – Care for our Business, Care for our People, and Care for our Responsibilities – are critical success factors in this work.

If you want to know more about our work with sustainability, you will find plenty of related articles here on our Elos Medtech blog; seven steps toward greater sustainability, for example, as well as my colleague Conny Jakobsson’s article on how our production site in China was able to reduce their scrap rate by 50%.