Apr 19, 2024

Medtronic pursues ambitious targets on climate action

For Francis Dufresne, a senior regional business director for Medtronic Canada, focusing on sustainability, both at work and at home, is all about ensuring his children inherit a safe and viable planet.

“I try to teach my kids about what we need to do to be environmentally responsible,” says Dufresne. “But the fact is we can only do so much. When a large corporation like Medtronic decides to make a difference, the impact is huge. And I’m really proud to work for an organization that makes this part of its mission.”

With 95,000 employees globally, Medtronic is a leading provider of medical devices and therapies. It’s also a company that has set aggressive goals to address the climate change crisis.

Across its operations in more than 150 countries, Medtronic is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and reducing carbon emissions to net-zero in its operations, supply chain and logistics by 2045.

Medtronic Canada is very much in the vanguard of that global effort. In fact, the company’s Brampton, Ont., head office, opened in 2009, was the first Medtronic office globally to be certified a LEED building, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.

Medtronic has also championed the recycling of medical devices once they have served their purpose. In Canada alone, this has prevented more than 10,000 devices annually being sent to the landfill.

Employee resource groups on sustainability are active across Canada, leading to employee-driven initiatives such as eliminating single-use cups, installing electric charging stations outside company offices and going paperless. Based in Montréal, Jasmine Giahchai, Medtronic Canada’s senior marketing communications supervisor, oversees all printing requests. If something can be done digitally instead, it will be; for example, all major corporate reports are now digital-only.

“Our printing has gone down significantly in recent years,” says Giahchai. “We are helping the environment and also reducing costs. It’s absolutely a ‘win-win’ situation.”

Giahchai also participates in a project at the Montréal office in which employees are given garden boxes to tend, with seedlings grown in an on-site greenhouse. In the fall, everything grown in the gardens is donated to local food banks. “We are reducing our carbon footprint while also addressing food security in our community,” says Giahchai. “It’s a great bonding experience for everyone involved.”

Like Dufresne, Giahchai says her concerns about climate change and sustainability are very much inspired by having two young children, and she couldn’t imagine working for a company that didn’t take such matters seriously. “A company that makes the future a priority,” says Giahchai, “is a company I want to work for.”

Dufresne says that Medtronic’s commitment to being a green employer also helps attract new talent. “This is something people care about more every year as we see the impact of climate change,” he says. “In 2024, it’s the only way to go.”

A 15-year veteran at Medtronic, Dufresne says he has two key inspirations for coming to work every day. The first has to do with the company’s core mission statement, as a global health-care technology company, to “alleviate pain, restore health and extend life.”

The second is the company’s willingness to set ambitious sustainability targets and a transparency report each year on its progress towards meeting those goals. “For me a job is more than a job; I need to feel like I have a purpose,” says Dufresne. “I have that here.”

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