In 2014, when Cameron Hawn joined Brampton, Ont.-based Medtronic Canada ULC as a territory manager for Central Canada, there weren’t many discussions about sustainability in the medical sales industry. Today, it’s a completely different story – in fact, Medtronic’s customers are asking him what the company is doing to advance sustainable practices and processes.
Medtronic researches, designs, manufactures and sells medical devices and therapies. “The feedback I receive from hospitals is that they’re looking for partners, not just suppliers,” says Hawn, now manager of strategic partnerships. “Unlike a decade ago, it’s no longer the case of needing a medical device, but they want to know where it’s coming from and how it’s made.”
Medtronic has a long history of doing the right thing for customers and patients. “We’re purpose-driven relative to our mission to maintain good citizenship as a company, and that includes our social responsibility,” says President Sheri Dodd, who joined Medtronic Canada in the fall of 2022. “The company’s commitment – and the employees’ drive to sustainability in Canada – are very impressive.”
That sense of stewardship led Medtronic to become a co-founding member of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care, which is working toward an environmentally sustainable, climate resilient and net-zero health system. Medtronic also has internal environmental action groups across Canada, where employees can share best practices and contribute suggestions on how to be greener.
One of the most impressive initiatives is the Brampton head office, which opened in 2009 with a Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) silver designation. In fact, the headquarters was the first Medtronic office globally to go green. Before it was built, employees were asked about their vision for it; the response was that it should be environmentally friendly.
Other initiatives include asking customers to return end-of-life devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators to Medtronic. Considered hazardous waste, they were being safely stored in the warehouse. Medtronic created a process to collect and disinfect the devices, then properly dispose of any recyclable parts, such as batteries and precious metals.
“Environmental awareness is becoming part of more and more conversations,” says Hawn. “We’re creating a more sustainable ecosystem beyond solving product challenges, and we’re looking at challenges related to patient outcomes, staffing and operating room efficiencies.” This also includes extending the shelf life of innovative technologies, resulting in less clinical and residual waste.
Smaller but still impactful steps include encouraging employees to take coffee grounds from the cafeteria to use as compost in their gardens and to plant tree seedlings at home. There’s a charging station for electric cars in the company’s parking lot and incentives for leasing hybrid company cars. In 2021, the Canadian offices went paperless for invoicing, the first country within Medtronic to do so.
“There are so many great team members and customers who care about sustainability – it’s a huge collaboration,” says Hawn. “It’s no longer good enough to be good enough. We’re pushing the envelope to provide an exceptional experience for patients, hospitals and our employees.”
In her off time, Dodd says, she and her husband love to hike, ski and snowshoe. “My joy is being outside, and I want the environment to be healthy for a long time,” she says. “I bring that mentality to how I operate in my work – and I love that I found a company that shares those values.”
When a hospital partners with Medtronic, they’re getting a company that’s committed to green – and while Dodd is proud of their environmental strides, they’re committed to doing more. “We can touch thousands of hospitals, then multiply that by hundreds of products and tens of thousands of patients,” she says. “That’s good math.”
As appeared in The Globe and Mail April 2023, republished courtesy of Mediacorp Canada Inc.