Medtronic: Every Drop Counts

Our global water supply is limited. Our employees’ desire to protect this precious resource is not.
Oct 21, 2020 2:00 PM ET

Saving water today for tomorrow

From the polar ice caps to the muddy Mississippi River, water is everywhere, covering almost 70% of our planet. Wherever water is, life follows. Yet fresh water is a finite resource. By 2030, the global demand for water is expected to exceed supply by 40%. Conserving water for future generations must be a priority for everyone and that includes industries, which are responsible for 22% of worldwide water use. To protect our planet’s most precious resource, we must all do more with less. 

Reducing our footprint, one step at a time

The Medtronic Mission calls us to improve human welfare, which includes protecting the Earth’s natural resources. Our company is always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint, and water conservation is part of our multi-faceted approach. For years, we’ve been conducting in-depth analyses of how water is used at our facilities around the world. Armed with that knowledge, Medtronic devises water conservation plans at certain larger manufacturing locations. Over the past seven years, Medtronic decreased water usage by 20% and is striving to cut current usage by 15% over the next five years. We are making water conservation a daily habit.

Reusing a resource

Less than an hour south of a rainforest in Puerto Rico, a Medtronic facility in Juncos is awash in water most of the year. Still, the team there sees rainfall for what it is: a resource. By capturing rainwater and using it to heat and cool the large manufacturing facility, the company saves up to 250,000 gallons each month. “This is water that would otherwise go down the stormwater drain,” said Senior Facilities Manager Eddie Ortiz. “When we reuse this water, we save money and help the environment.”

Water wise

“Managing water resources requires us to constantly be aware of local environments and longer-term water availability. There are many places in the world that have adequate supplies today, but might not be able to meet future demands.” Daniel Sterner, Director of Global Energy and Utility Infrastructure, Medtronic. 

Being a good steward of the environment means working diligently to minimize water waste wherever and whenever we can. This is especially important in our large manufacturing facilities where water is critically needed to control temperature and humidity for our products, and to sterilize the equipment needed to produce medical devices. In addition to routinely checking for leaks, Medtronic teams continuously look for opportunities to repurpose or stretch existing water supplies. 

Sometimes that means making big investments to ensure our facilities are using water as efficiently as possible. We know every drop counts.                                                                                               

Pure innovation, pure water

At more than 1 million square-feet, the Medtronic facility in North Haven, Connecticut is one of the company’s largest manufacturing facilities. In 2017, the company installed a state-of-the-art system that purifies water by pushing it through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out contaminants. Not only did the new system and a cooling tower upgrade improve water quality at the facility, the site is now saving 6.5 million gallons of water per year, or about 13% of total annual usage. 

Waste not, want not

Saving water doesn’t always have to be complicated. Sometimes the simplest strategies are the most effective. At several of our facilities, we collect rainwater, treat it, and reuse it for heating and cooling. By reusing this resource, we help conserve water that would otherwise come from local municipal supplies. In some of our more arid locations like Tempe, Arizona, we use natural and sustainable practices to manage our green spaces and reduce our water use. With 90,000 employees around the globe, even switching to low-flow toilets and waterless urinals saves thousands of gallons per year. Small changes can lead to big savings.  

Share more, save more

Water scarcity is a growing global concern, and Medtronic is preparing for the time when water resources are critically endangered in some regions, but not others. While our operations are generally not water-intensive, Medtronic recognizes our responsibility to protect the natural resources we all share. By working together, we can make a difference, one drop at a time, one day at a time. 

Learn more about our environmental stewardship.