How VWR is Creating a Better World Through Positive Social & Environmental Impacts
| By E&I Cooperative Services
When it comes to sustainability, VWR, part of Avantor, is committed to creating a better world through positive social and environmental impacts. We sat down with Nate Belke, Sustainability Manager at Avantor, to find out more about the company’s sustainable practices now and plans for the future.
Please talk about VWR, part of Avantor’s commitment to sustainability:
- When was the program/strategy developed/implemented?
- What are the primary goals/focus?
- Why is this important to your organization?
Our Sustainability program was formalized in 2012. Avantor is committed to creating a better world by delivering positive social and environmental impacts for our associates, suppliers, customers, and communities. We live by that commitment each day, making a difference in the communities where we work and live across the globe. To accomplish this, we provide sustainable products and service solutions for the life sciences, advanced technologies, and applied material industries through:
- Environmental Protection: Minimizing the use of resources, preventing pollution, and protecting ecosystem health.
- Social Impact: Focusing on associate health, safety, wellness, development, and training, as well as community engagement in the areas where we work and live.
- Economic Growth: Driving company growth through innovative projects and continuous improvement.
Combined with the ability to provide detailed and transparent reporting and information, we can support our customers in achieving their sustainability goals, targets, and initiatives.
What are the benefits (of sustainable practices) for VWR, the consumer, and the community as a whole?
Integrating sustainability into the way we do business allows us to reduce our operating expenses and footprint. Applying the lens of sustainability reduces our risk exposure and provides opportunities to innovate and deliver new product and service solutions to our customers.
How do you promote sustainability within your organization?
Our team communicates with our associates through several channels. We conduct sustainable business practice trainings to our associates and regularly communicate sustainability-related updates, achievements, or tips through our internal SharePoint. Our team also engages with various business functions to collaborate on opportunities to better integrate sustainability into their efforts.
What strategies/methods have you employed to attain buy-in for sustainability within your organization?
As an industry leader and public company, our key stakeholders both internally and externally care about sustainability for their business. We understand that in order to help our customers, suppliers, associates, and investors achieve their goals, we need to address sustainability-related performance. By connecting our relevant stakeholder to the business unit, we are able to best identify stakeholder needs and how our business can better meet those needs while improving our organization.
Have you experienced any misconceptions regarding sustainability? How have you responded?
We haven’t necessarily had misconceptions about our products, services, or the Sustainability program, but it is becoming increasingly important to provide as much transparency to our stakeholders as possible. We address this with our Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) program and sustainability-related reporting capabilities to help customers make more informed purchasing decisions.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with regard to your sustainability program and how have you overcome that challenge?
We continue to engage our suppliers on communicating expectations surrounding operating sustainability and social responsibility. Our organization has come a long way since 2012 by implementing a Supplier Sustainability Charter and initiating a Supply Chain Sustainability Assessment and Risk Assessment. This has allowed us to better understand and support our supplier’s corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives, which in turn allows us to better support our customers.
How do you track, monitor, report progress?
VWR had published an annual Sustainability Report with information regarding our environmental, social, and economic impacts and performance. We use cloud-based software to capture our environmental performance and consumption at our site and locations as well as other HR and communication tools to capture social-related metrics. As part of our new organizational structure under Avantor, we are developing the framework and process for our overall Avantor Sustainability Program as well as our reporting capabilities. Previous Sustainability Reports can be found on our website.
What best practices or tips would you share with other organizations interested in initiating or improving a sustainability program?
Conducting stakeholder engagement on environmental, social, and governance-related topics can go a long way in prioritizing which initiatives will be best to focus on. Historically, we have referred to our materiality assessment results and other engagement surveys to help inform our leadership and Sustainability team on where we should be focusing our efforts.
What are some trends you are seeing in terms of sustainability and how is VWR responding to those trends?
We continue to see specific engagement surrounding product end-of-life and product transparency. As a result, we are continuing to evolve and enhance our Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) program to provide more products and services that consider natural and raw material resource usage, material recyclability, and third-party verifications of product attributes.
What are the future plans for your sustainability program? How will you continue to evolve/grow the program?
Our current major focus is continuing to integrate and enhance our sustainability programs to better serve our Avantor and VWR, part of Avantor customers. As part of our new organizational structure under Avantor, we are developing the framework, process, and reporting capabilities for our overall Avantor Sustainability Program.
About the Author
As Avantor’s channel brand, VWR serves as a leading global provider of product and service solutions to laboratory and production customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, industrial, education, government and healthcare industries, and offers an integrated, seamless purchasing experience that is optimized for the way E&I members do business.