Protecting the environment, health and safety has always been a hallmark of QIAGEN. No other life sciences company has contributed more than QIAGEN to the replacement of toxic elements in sample preparation procedures. With green practices across the business, we continually hone our operations to protect the environment.
From the start, QIAGEN has set the standard for safe, environmentally sound methods of sample preparation – a ubiquitous first step in molecular biology applications. QIAGEN introduced the world’s first plasmid kits in the 1980s, innovative methods that have widely replaced highly toxic procedures that once posed serious threats to the environment and the health of people working in labs. Since then our commitment to protect and preserve natural resources has expanded well beyond enhancing product safety. Green initiatives are actively reducing the environmental impact of QIAGEN’s business around the world.
For QIAGEN, commitment to safe, environmentally sound practices comes with a culture of operational excellence – reinforced by training, decision-making and standard procedures. Operations employ a concept called QIAzen, derived from the Japanese word KAIZEN, which means “continuous improvement.” Key employees in Operations have received QIAzen training to identify and prioritize avenues to improve our manufacturing organization, initiate projects, and monitor implementation with cross-functional teams. By constantly optimizing workflows in manufacturing and production, QIAGEN reduces transportation, saves electricity and minimizes other impacts on natural resources.
"Our operations employ a concept called QIAzen, derived from the Japanese word KAIZEN, which means 'continuous improvement'"
Douglas Liu, Senior Vice President Global Operations
Our main administration and production facility in the United States now uses “process” water produced during manufacturing to cool the building. Hand-motion activated faucets have been installed in all restrooms, and all water coolers have been replaced with filtered water dispensers.
To support responsible paper consumption, QIAGEN pursues a broad policy of reducing printed material as well as sustainable sourcing of paper products. Digital approaches to doing business are a major focus, and online tools and eCommerce sometimes make paper unnecessary. A recent initiative to replace paper invoices with PDFs, for example, offers potential to save 680,000 sheets of paper a year – and save on mailing costs. QIAGEN also has implemented a project to replace printed multiple-page handbooks supplied with its kits with concise, single-sheet, quick-start protocols that include a link to complete versions of handbooks at www.QIAGEN.com. This action could reduce paper usage for each kit by an average of 90 percent, as well as reducing printing and packaging costs. So far this project has been applied to multiple product lines. QIAGEN is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For production of many printed materials, including packaging, the company has a policy to select suppliers that comply with FSC standards for printing processes and sustainable paper production.
Packaging and waste reduction
QIAGEN has a long tradition of making our products safe and environmentally friendly, and QIAGEN’s procurement division has issued guidelines for suppliers requiring them to reduce packaging volumes by refraining from use of PVC and other potentially hazardous materials.
When the United Nations created the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) to define and communicate the hazards of chemical products through labeling and material safety data sheets, QIAGEN also took action. In 2013, South Korea became the first country in the world to enact regulations for labeling of chemical mixtures in accordance with the harmonized system. QIAGEN’s Asia Pacific team took ownership of a multi-departmental approach to reclassify the relevant hazmat kits for Korea, enabling QIAGEN to maintain the regional business – and overcome challenges that troubled many other enterprises.
The company uses biodegradable loose fill packaging made from 100 percent recycled polystyrene and has been taking positive measures to improve packaging. Since 2013, QIAGEN has substantially reduced kit volumes by using fewer inserts and optimizing design. This also helps to save manual operation time and transportation costs.
QIAGEN also plans to implement production of climate-neutral kit packaging. As climate change has become a global issue, climate-neutral means that the packaging is produced, used and disposed in emission-free ways, or with offsets elsewhere for unavoidable emissions.
At most QIAGEN sites, waste reduction and recycling are standard business practices – part of our commitment to conduct operations in a sustainable manner and in accordance with regulations. Our U.S. headquarters recycles all cardboard, paper, batteries and commingled materials. The European headquarters and other sites in the region collect and return all packaging waste carrying the “Green Dot.” QIAGEN is proud of the achievement of key goals for recycling in our global operations.
Results and progress
QIAGEN’s commitment to environmentally sustainable development has enabled us to reduce our impacts significantly. Some key metrics:
- As a result of a major CO2 initiative, QIAGEN was able to save approximately 725 tons of CO2 in 2015, and we are committed to continually minimizing energy consumption across our operations.
- We were responsible for recycling about 925 tons of waste materials in 2015.
- QIAGEN has saved approximately 100 tons of paper since 2010. Despite expansion in production volume, the paper consumption has been reduced continuously – mainly by transition from printed materials to a wider range of online tools available at our website. In the U.S., the proportion of post-consumer waste paper used in production has increased to 75 percent.
- Our U.S. production facility saves approximately 16 million liters of potable water per year (more than 43,600 liters a day) by using wastewater produced in the manufacturing process to cool the building.
- In our European headquarters in Hilden, regenerative electricity accounts for approximately 11 percent of total energy expenditure.
- Reductions in use of HVAC systems for administrative and support areas during off hours have helped QIAGEN North America reduce daily energy consumption by up to 30%.
These are just preliminary results. We are constantly identifying new opportunities for the preservation of our natural resources. At QIAGEN, the process never stops.