Relentlessly pursuing energy, water, and materials efficiencies in manufacturing our products
Thermo Fisher Scientific is positively shaping the future by providing innovative products and redesigning our processes and facilities in the pursuit of zero waste, maximum carbon productivity, and efficient use of people and technologies. Using our Practical Process Improvement (PPI) Business System, our employees are continually finding opportunities to source greener materials, reduce water and energy consumption, and minimize waste.
A prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award was given to Life Technologies Corporation in 2013 (later acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific), in the category of Greener Synthetic Pathways, for the manufacturing of Ambion™ PCR reagents. This award program recognizes individuals and organizations for successful implementation of innovative technologies to reduce waste and promote safer chemistries. Our scientists developed new methods of synthesizing deoxyribonucleotide triphosphates (dNTPs) that resulted in reduction of organic solvent consumption by up to 95% and other hazardous waste up to 65% compared to conventional protocols. By improving the yields and specificity of reactions, the ratio of mass of waste to mass of product (e-factor) has been reduced from approximately 3,200 to 400, eliminating hundreds of tons of hazardous waste per year.
The final step in manufacturing our Applied Biosystems POROS™ chromatography resins requires constant water flow through elution cones. Increasing the flow rate improves the process efficiency and effectiveness, reducing consumption by nearly 1,325 cubic meters (350,000 gallons) annually. This innovation also saves 7,100 kg of ethanol annually, requires fewer labor hours, and frees up space for future expansion.
Saving energy and space with new lab equipment
We are always looking for opportunities to improve the efficiency of our operations, including reducing energy consumption in our labs. In our Carlsbad, California facility we have replaced older equipment with more energy-efficient models. In 2015, we replaced 115 ultralow-temperature freezers with our Thermo Scientific™ TSX Series ultralow-temperature freezers. The new freezers use a more environmentally friendly coolant and are more spacious, allowing us to reduce the number of units to 77 and use up to 50% less energy. With this project, we have saved over 640,000 kWh of energy, reducing our carbon footprint by 441 metric tons—the equivalent of taking 93 cars off the road for one year.
Thermo Fisher Scientific scientists developed a proprietary fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay that helps to eliminates radioactivity in testing enzyme-based product lines. Replacing radioactive isotopes with a fluorescent dye has reduced use of radioactivity by 60% at our Carlsbad, California and Austin, Texas sites, making our employees and facilities safer. This new process has also allowed us to execute assays in half the time and with more accurate results.
This breakthrough has the potential to one day completely eliminate radioactivity in the quality control testing of many laboratory reagents.
Thirteen of our manufacturing sites have been independently certified for Zero Waste. These sites are in Asheville, North Carolina; Bedford, Massachusetts; Bleiswijk, The Netherlands; Eugene, Oregon; Frederick, Maryland; Inchinnan, Scotland; Kiryat Shmona, Israel; Löhne, Germany; Marsiling, Singapore; Pleasanton, California; Regensburg, Germany; Tuas, Singapore; and Warrington, England.
Comprehensive audits have validated that we are diverting more than 90% of the nonhazardous waste from these sites from landfill.