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It’s widely recognised that the healthcare sector has a large and costly environmental footprint. Hospitals in particular account for some of the most energy-intensive facilities, yet many traditionally have been slow to embrace resource efficiency. A study by the University of Chicago found that the industry stands to save up to $15bn over 10 years by adopting more sustainable practices – it’s an opportunity that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the world’s sixth-largest consumer health company.
J&J’s product stewardship lead Al Ianuzzi says customer demand is increasing for more sustainable products – highly significant when you consider that healthcare is one of the highest growing industries in the world. Globally, he says, the sector spends more than $200bn a year on medical and non-medical products. It’s also constantly innovating: around 25% of J&J’s 2015 sales came from new products introduced within the past five years.
These two drivers sit at the heart of the company’s product stewardship programme, Earthwards, which Ianuzzi helped pioneer back in 2009. Earthwards was launched as the company had a hunch that the market would demand greener products that could deliver added value and performance. It’s an approach that uses lifecycle data to identify the environmental and social impacts of a product, and identifies opportunities to dematerialise them.
Earthwards recognition is reserved for the company’s most improved products, which must achieve three significant improvements across seven impact areas: materials, packaging, energy, water, waste, positive social impact and product innovation.