Green development

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Green development

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.

Our commitment

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

Green actions

To meet our goals and limit the footprint of our business on the environment, we have introduced a broad panel of sustainability activities and programs.

Energy savings

QIAGEN is committed to saving energy. We run simulations to reduce energy consumption and have installed sophisticated energy recovery and control systems to provide only the minimum of power required for operations. Improvements encompass energy extraction from co-generators, better insulation, heat recovery and installation of intelligent building systems. Since 2003, a comprehensive process has helped facility managers continuously identify potential saving opportunities, plan and monitor implementation. Use of power-friendly equipment, sustainable selection of suppliers and optimized operational hours contribute to a high level of energy efficiency.

Actions taken to reduce power consumption in headquarters sites in the United States and Germany include light sensors in hallways, restrooms, storage areas and parking decks, as well as the use of energy-saving LEDs, replacement of incandescent fixtures with low-energy-use 28-watt bulbs, and fixed runtime of heating, ventilation and air conditioning
systems. In the European headquarters in Hilden, Germany, QIAGEN has invested 120,000 euros to replace fluorescent lamps with LED ones, which switch on automatically when a forklift enters the aisle. Not only has the light intensity has been reduced, but previously, fluorescent lamps were permanently on, whether a forklift was in the aisle or not, and every lamp had to be replaced yearly. The new lighting systems save as much as 72 percent in energy consumption and are expected to save 225,000 – 230,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 150 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Green building

Energy savings play a major role in QIAGEN’s building investment decisions, implementing green standards by incorporating specifications for energy and water efficiency, air quality and materials. Site expansions including new buildings at our regional headquarters in Germany and the United States have achieved certifications under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program. QIAGEN’s new facilities in Hilden are the first laboratory and the first production building in Europe to meet the high criteria for energy efficiency and earn the Gold-standard certification.

Transportation innovation

Much of the energy consumption associated with a business occurs beyond it own premises, so transportation of people and cargo is an additional focus. At QIAGEN’s headquarters, discounted train and bus tickets encourage employees to use public transportation, and we have installed e-charging stations for cars and bikes. The pool of company cars has been changed to ecological and CO2-efficient models in a continuous adjustment process. Low emissions play a critical role in the decision process for new company cars.

At most sites, video conferencing systems have been installed to encourage virtual team meetings and reduce travel between sites. In France, the collection of dry ice from customers upon delivery of our kits spares extra transportation and shipping. Some manufacturing machines have been placed at suppliers’ sites to reduce transportation-related impacts on the environment.

QIAGEN is continuously implementing new actions to help reduce the footprint of our operations on the environment.

Water conservation

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.

Paper reduction

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. 

Recycling

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.

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