As a recent university graduate with degrees in mechanical and biomechanical engineering, Shona Kamps was looking to launch her career in the health-care sector. When she read about how Medtronic Canada ULC is committed to combating climate change, it ticked another box.
“I am aware that the health-care industry is responsible for nearly five per cent of global carbon emissions," Kamps says. “I was really attracted to Medtronic because it’s a leader in greening health care.”
Kamps, who started working on contract, landed a full-time position in October 2021 as a business analyst in Medtronic’s Integrated Health Solutions team. Her responsibilities include working with hospitals to evaluate and help optimize their systems and patient pathways.
Medtronic, the largest medical-device employer in Canada, has a spectrum of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. This includes measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. The company also works to minimize its environmental impact through product stewardship initiatives such as recycling medical devices where practicable and reducing packaging waste.
Kamps applauds all these undertakings, but she was also keen to make a personal, hands-on contribution toward sustainability issues and efforts at Medtronic. A little networking, she says, soon connected her to a large community of employees also eager to do their share.
By November 2021, Kamps and two colleagues had co-founded the Medtronic Environmental Action Group, a volunteer alliance dedicated to changing individual behaviour and to creating systemic change through employee education, engagement and empowerment.
In just four months, the group grew to nearly 700 members in North America, Europe and the Middle East, encompassing a broad range of ages and Medtronic business units. Now organized into teams, they’re planning projects, organizing events and hosting digital talks on topics ranging from sustainable design to composting.
The action group also has its own internal communications channel where employees can post questions, listen to podcasts and access a knowledge centre, among other things. Kamps describes the group’s initial accomplishments as bare-bones, but in light of members’ zeal and the goals they’ve set, she expects that to change.
“Everyone’s passion is so clearly evident,” she says. “Medtronic has the opportunity to drive the green transition in the healthcare industry and contribute to human health in conjunction with our mission to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life.”
As it turns out, Medtronic has a long-standing culture of empowering employees to drive change in the workplace. Just ask Donna Wong, Medtronic Canada’s Montréal-based commercial leader of interventional neuroradiology & stroke neurology, who knows what it’s like to pursue a passion project.
Wong says that when she saw how much waste was being generated, she looked at ways to incorporate sustainability in programs within her sector. In decades past no one recycled medical devices. In 2021, Medtronic Canada recycled over 10,000 used medical devices, says Wong, who’s most familiar with the process for pacemakers and defibrillators.
Other divisions have the flexibility to devise methods that suit their particular needs, she adds, but the goal is the same. “From design and manufacturing to packaging, distribution and disposal, we take ownership and do what’s right,” she says.
That’s in keeping with Medtronic’s overall approach to being a good environmental steward. “Twenty years ago, we never thought about sustainability,” says Wong. “Now it’s just automatically part of our calculations.”
*Learn more about how Medtronic was selected here.
This article was published April 20, 2022 in The Globe and Mail magazine announcing Canada's Greenest Employers winners.