Baxter's Aibonito, Puerto Rico, Facility Demonstrates Environmental Best Practices
Baxter's facility in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, which manufactures disposable medical products, has long been a strong environmental, health and safety (EHS) performer. In fact, Baxter recognized Aibonito with its 2008-2009 EHS Excellence Award, recognizing the "Best of the Best EHS Program in Baxter." The site's results are due to several factors, including hiring and assigning dedicated management and personnel to advance sustainability issues at the site, making capital investments to enhance resource efficiency, experimenting with innovative technologies, and exploring and learning from strong practices at other companies.
The site's efforts across multiple areas help Baxter make progress toward its 2010 and 2015 EHS goals. Despite significant production increases in recent years, the site has achieved absolute reductions in areas ranging from energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to water consumption, waste generation and waste disposal (see graphic).
Energy Usage and GHG Emissions
The Aibonito site's main uses of energy are to power process machinery, run heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, operate chillers and produce compressed air. The facility pursues a wide range of projects to decrease energy use. Recent examples include:
- Replacing 12 vacuum pumps used for the operation of six manufacturing machines with a single central vacuum system (a process started in 2010) has decreased required power by 50%, while also eliminating the need for 168 employees to be included in the hearing conservation program.
- Reconfiguring existing air compression systems in 2010 reduced the pressure differential between the equipment and the storage tanks, saving 187,000 kWh annually.
- Consolidating four cooling towers into two decreased annual energy consumption by 130,000 kWh since 2009.
The site also has pursued renewable energy projects to diversify its energy mix and decrease GHG emissions, including installing a 7.8 kW photovoltaic system and a solar heater that provides hot water to the cafeteria.
Between 2005 and 2010, the facility reduced absolute energy use by 30% and decreased GHG emissions by 25%.
The biggest factors impacting water use at the facility are production and utilities, including cooling towers and a prep room (where employees wash parts). The site saved water in 2010 through several initiatives:
- Reusing water from the prep room provides more than 2,300 cubic meters of input water for the cooling tower annually, in addition to 550 cubic meters of condensate water recaptured each year from the HVAC equipment. Overall, the tower meets about 22% of its requirements with recycled water.
- Using large aboveground storage tanks, the site captured more than 3,500 cubic meters of rainwater last year for beneficial uses, including cooling tower make-up and onsite irrigation needs.
Since 2005, the facility has decreased its absolute water use by nearly 2.9 million liters annually.
The Aibonito site has a goal to increase its recycling rate to 90% by 2011, from 57% in 2003. This benefits Baxter financially through recycling proceeds, and demonstrates the facility's commitment to strong citizenship on an island with limited landfill capacity.
Since 2008, the site has shifted from using cardboard and wood pallets to reusable plastic containers and pallets to transport products within the facility as well as to Jayuya, another Baxter site on the island. An investment of $200,000 in 2008 has already yielded savings of $450,000. Due to these efforts, between 2008 and 2010 annual use of cardboard related to these activities decreased by 66% (about 137 metric tons) and wood pallet use was reduced by 305 metric tons, even though production at the site rose by 7%.
Since 2008, through these initiatives and others, the site has reduced non-hazardous waste sent to landfill by more than 150 metric tons.
Accompanying these improvements in environmental performance, the site's recordable cases and recordable incident rate have both dropped substantially during the last decade as well, with no cases reported during the last two years. Baxter collects and shares information about leading EHS practices at Aibonito and other sites, to enhance performance companywide.