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Sanofi Canada invests $180M to reduce environmental footprint

Steam and electrical upgrades, wastewater treatment facility to reduce emissions by 15,000 tonnes annually

Sanofi Canada's Toronto headquarters. (Courtesy Sanofi Canada)
Sanofi Canada's Toronto headquarters. (Courtesy Sanofi Canada)

Sanofi Canada is investing $180 million toward a major infrastructure upgrade to its Toronto Campus with the goal of reducing its environmental footprint by 50 per cent.

This sweeping retrofit of the company's sprawling 54-acre Toronto facility is expected to achieve a 30 per cent decrease in its carbon emissions and a 20 per cent saving in water usage by 2025.

The Toronto Campus is the site where Sanofi, the global pharma and healthcare giant, operates several of the most technologically advanced vaccine biomanufacturing plants in Canada and is home to 2,000 employees.

Sanofi committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030

Sanofi Canada is part of a worldwide pharma empire based in Paris which maintains operations in over 100 countries. It has been active as a leading pharmaceutical product developer and manufacturer in Canada since 1914 when it first came into being as Connaught Laboratories, a non-profit diphtheria antitoxin facility founded by Dr. John G. FitzGerald in conjunction with the University of Toronto. 

The upscaling of its Toronto Campus is part of Sanofi's corporate commitment to the greening of its operations as set out in its Planet Care sustainability strategy, that aims to minimize the direct and indirect impacts of company activities and products on the environment.

The key elements involved in the transformation of the Toronto Campus into a sustainable facility include a major upgrade to steam and electrical utilities to reduce carbon emissions by 15,000 tonnes per year. In addition, Sanofi will be deploying a site-wide wastewater treatment facility.

Finally, Sanofi will be deploying energy efficiency technology such as LED lighting with special sensors and heat recovery systems to optimize energy generation and management. 

The Energy Project initiative

Melanee Short, head of sustainability, global engineering at Sanofi. (Courtesy Sanofi Canada)
Melanee Short, head of sustainability, global engineering at Sanofi. (Courtesy Sanofi Canada)

The broader aim of the company's benchmark Energy Project initiative is to ensure a reliable electrical and steam supply for current and future Toronto Campus buildings, while reducing carbon emissions and water consumption. 

"The (upgrading) of the Toronto site is both an investment in decarbonization as well as water reduction, two of the key tenets of our Planet Care strategy," Melanee Short, head of sustainability, global engineering at Sanofi, said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada. 

"The first part of the investment is the Energy Project, where we're doing a major upgrade to our steam and electrical utilities. Ultimately, that will facilitate a very large reduction in our carbon emissions — 15,000 tonnes per year — both for Toronto as well as for Sanofi overall.

"The second part involves a site-wide wastewater treatment facility. We are currently treating our wastewater on site, but now we will be investing towards reusing 20 per cent of that treated wastewater . . . We will conclude work on the wastewater project later this year and we are now in the process of launching the Energy Project. Once these changes are implemented, they will help Sanofi reach our 2030 sustainability targets."

Top-down corporate commitment to environmental stewardship

Short is responsible for working with Sanofi manufacturing and supply teams around the world to achieve the panoply of objectives set out in its Planet Care program. Since joining the company in 2007, she has held various site, regional and global responsibilities with respect to reducing the company's carbon footprint.

"Planet Care is a global program and commitment that is very much coming from the top down," Short said.

"I've been working in the (sustainability) space for many years and so have many other people at our company. We've now reached a point where everybody's involved and the Planet Care program has been really important in providing the framework for everybody at Sanofi to walk in a certain direction."


Apart from decarbonization and improved water stewardship, Sanofi is also studying the impact of its facilities on the local environment and how the use of raw materials figures into the overall operational framework.

"We're a global healthcare company, and we recognize our responsibility when it comes to improving people's lives, and that goes beyond our products to protecting the environment," Short said.

"Eco-Design is a very big program that we are implementing now and where we're looking at all of our products. By 2030, we will be examining our top 20 products from the raw material usage phase all the way through to manufacturing and then to their end of life disposal."

Sanofi is also looking to improve its overall waste management by studying how much solid, liquid and hazardous waste is being generated at its facilities and what new measures can be taken to reduce such waste.

"As a first principle, how can we avoid producing the waste in the first place? But then as a second principle, if the waste is created, how can it be managed as sustainably as possible?" Short added.

"At the end of the day, (the Toronto Campus) investment is carrying out our sustainable objectives on a much bigger scale where we're looking at optimizing the use of our equipment, trying to replace existing assets with the most efficient new equipment that we can find. It's a continuous process and not something that gets solved overnight."

Toronto Campus to serve as standard bearer for Sanofi worldwide

The deployment of the wastewater treatment plant at the Toronto Campus is an initiative that will be the largest of its kind within Sanofi's global network.

"We'll be leveraging the learnings we obtain from Toronto to see how it can potentially be applied at other sites. On the energy side as well, the benefits that we see from the project will certainly allow us to look at other sites around the world where we can introduce similar kinds of upgrades," Short said.

"In general, we're sharing best practices among all of our environmental initiatives . . . We all want to do as much as we can as quickly as possible, but there is work to do. The Toronto Campus infrastructure investments represent a very important step along the way for us to achieve our sustainability goals."

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