July 22, 2024

Health Minds

Nourishing Minds, Elevating Health

MedTech’s Green Moment Is Here

2 min read

For the past 100 years, medical technology (MedTech) has been a beehive of innovation, improving patient diagnostics, treatments, and clinical outcomes in a vast array of health categories. This includes everything from MRI scanning, robotic surgery, and knee implants to transcatheter heart valves and COVID tests. But despite this impressive record of scientific advances and breakthroughs, there is one area that MedTech companies have not yet focused on sufficiently: reducing their impact on the environment.

Health care accounts for 5% of total global carbon emissions, and medical devices and technology are responsible for a large portion of that. Much of this comes from the manufacturing operations and supply chains of MedTech companies and their suppliers. At the provider level, MedTech generates tons of unrecycled waste through single-use disposable products and packaging.

MedTech CEOs are increasingly becoming aware that they must take immediate action on decarbonization.

Spurred by the potential impact of climate change on global health and environmental concerns raised by providers, patients, regulators, and investors, MedTech CEOs are increasingly becoming aware that they must take immediate action on decarbonization. Some of the early environmental, social, and governance (ESG) front-runners are already benefitting in unexpected ways. For example, if planned right, abating 20% to 30% of emissions could generate a net cost saving—and cutting emissions by up to 80% could be cost neutral. What’s more, reducing emissions can enable MedTech companies to tap into new revenue streams, such as climate-friendly (energy-efficient and lower-waste) product lines, and lead to improved ESG scores. This can strengthen a company’s reputation and improve talent attraction and retention in the near term.

Four Steps to Emissions Reduction

Given the growing need and desire to take urgent action on decarbonization—and the potential advantages of doing so—BCG has marshaled its experience with multiple MedTech companies to piece together a clear path for shrinking MedTech’s carbon footprint. We have identified four essential steps that can lead to rapid progress on carbon emission reductions: create a baseline, set a target, identify abatement levers, and operationalize improvements.

Step 1: Create a Baseline

A company can only reduce what it can measure, so comprehensive and transparent emissions measurement is imperative. This means assessing the organization’s own scope 1 and 2 emissions (company activities and energy use, respectively), as well as emissions generated in the supply chain (upstream scope 3) and by customers using the product (downstream scope 3).


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