Cardinal Health is a multinational healthcare services company that distributes pharmaceuticals and medical products worldwide. The Dublin, Ohio-based company also makes medical and surgical products. Cardinal Health, which is a half-century old, operates in 35 countries and has 44,000 employees. It strives to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency at its facilities and transportation fleet.
It signed on to the Science Based Targets initiative, which aligns with the Paris climate agreement to limit temperature increases. To that end, it has set greenhouse gas emissions goals, vowing to limit its Scopes 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030, using 2019 as its baseline. The company says it will announce its Scope 3 goals at the end of this year. Scope 1 is linked to operations; Scope 2 is tied to the fuels it buys from others, and Scope 3 is associated with the supply chain.
“In fiscal 2022, we made progress toward our climate target and decreased aggregate Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 18%, as compared to fiscal 2019. This was due in part to energy efficiency efforts throughout our operations, as well as pandemic-related impacts,” Cardinal Health says. “We retrofitted more than 10 facilities with LED lighting, which removed more than 4,000 tons of GHG emissions. LED lighting also creates a better work environment for our employees by improving employee safety, productivity, picking accuracy, and overall comfort.”
- It uses renewable energy to fully power its global headquarters and National Logistics Center in Central Ohio. Cardinal Health was one of Central Ohio’s three founding partners of Smart Columbus Energy, an initiative of Smart Columbus designed to support the decarbonization of large businesses in the region, which pools customers’ energy demands and allows procurement of energy from Ohio-based wind and solar projects.
- It has grown the company’s Total Waste Management initiative, initiated in 2020. The results: increased landfill avoidance by 750 tons – about as much as four locomotives, increased use of waste-to-generating, generating 412k kWh, enough to fuel 39 homes for a year.
- It conducted ESG audits at 50% of its manufacturing sites to assess their environmental and social performance and identify opportunities for improvement. Audits of the remaining facilities will occur this year.
“We deliver products and services to improve the lives of people every day and our approach to doing business must help protect our planet for future generations,” said Mike Kaufmann, chief executive at Cardinal Health. “We’re operating sustainably and responsibly so we can care for our people and our planet – today, and tomorrow.”
And cutting waste is a big opportunity
Cardinal Health can improve its supply chain emissions by using more efficient transportation and logistics as a distributor of pharmaceuticals and medical products. To that end, it has created a program to consolidate shipments, ensure fewer partial loads, and highlight the movements of its vehicles.
The initiative is generating “significant cost savings and reducing GHG emissions,” it says, adding that if it has extra space in its trucks, it is working with other providers to move their goods. Moreover, smaller orders are sent using more fuel-efficient vehicles, which get three times more gas mileage than a large truck. This year, it will add three to five electric delivery vans to its delivery fleet in southern California.
And packaging its medical supplies is where the company can reduce waste. It will:
— Reduce the total weight or total size of packaging systems.
— Incorporate materials and packaging systems that can be reused.
— Ensure the use of packaging materials that can be recycled.
— package materials that can be incinerated for energy recovery. The technology — waste-to-energy — is now part of the global effort to reduce CO2 levels. Developing countries that have limited landfill space and a need to go green are especially good prospects.
According to Practice Greenhealth, a single hospital generates more than 29 pounds of waste per bed per day. That’s 5 million tons annually. Single-use devices represent the best opportunity for change. That is, hospitals must use those that can be reprocessed many times. And when they can no longer get used, they must be recycled. Cardinal Health reprocesses pneumatic tourniquet cuffs, lateral air transfer mats, compression sleeves, disposable lead wires, pressure infusion bags, and pulse oximetry sensors. It does so under the name of Sustainable Technologies.
It collected 18.3 million single-use devices in 2022, and this effort diverted more than 5.6 million pounds of waste from landfills. “Across the enterprise, we work to continually increase the percentage of waste we recycle each year, including wood, cardboard, paper, plastics, metal, electronics, and other materials, Cardinal says.
For example, Cardinal’s facility in Demand, Florida makes needles and syringes. It started partnering with Banyan Recycling in 2022 to reduce the waste it sends to landfills. Banyan now takes the facility’s waste — such as ground plastics and ground metals — and transforms it into commercial and consumer byproducts. The plastic waste is recycled and used for consumer shelving, roofing, industrial decking, and compression-molded industrial pallets. The metals are ground and sold to metal processors who make things like shelving.
Cardinal says the initiative diverted 60,000 pounds of waste from landfill between March and June 2022.