Roche, the global pharmaceutical and diagnostics company headquartered in Switzerland, has an ambitious goal to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. A major component of that goal is to have a sustainable fleet by 2030 — with no vehicles using a combustible fuel source, and electric vehicles powered by sustainable electricity.
In a recent video episode of Fast Forward, Sharon Etherington, who manages the Roche Diagnostics fleet, and Krista McKenna, senior SHE (safety, health, and environment) professional at Roche, discuss Roche’s sustainability goals as a corporation and offer their insights on the ways in which fleets can measure, manage, and lower carbon emissions.
The fleet at Roche Diagnostics is currently in the process of transitioning from hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) into battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Its fleet size is roughly 1,600 vehicles, comprised primarily of small SUVs, which are located across the U.S.
Measuring Carbon Beyond Fleet
Roche employs a holistic approach to reach its overall sustainability goals, Etherington says. “For Roche, sustainability is not only about the environment aspect. What we are trying to do is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. How does it affect our nature? How do we invest in medical advances? What do we contribute for a better tomorrow for all?”
While planting trees or providing offsets are admirable practices, she says Roche doesn’t necessarily subscribe to them. However, in certain areas that aren’t able to provide green electricity, McKenna adds that a renewable energy certificate (REC) can be bought to offset the electricity that was purchased.
Having been ranked as one of the most sustainable health care companies on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for over 10 years, McKenna says that Roche recognizes the importance of “having a sustainable business and making sure of leaving the right footprint.”
With fleet being just one key aspect of corporate sustainability, Roche also looks at other important factors such as product sustainability, energy used in manufacturing and warehousing, and tracking non-fleet personnel travel, including flights.
“There are even factors contributing to how much waste that we generate or how much waste that we recycle,” McKenna says. “It really touches on every avenue of the business.”
How Roche Collects Carbon Data
Etherington stresses that data collection is the most important aspect when creating a baseline carbon footprint against which to measure improvements over time. “We partner with our safety, health, and environment to provide the data and compare ourselves to different divisions across Roche. We look at fuel, mileage, and how much electricity we are pulling in.”
To analyze carbon footprint, Roche uses an external partner to obtain driver-related data, such as business mileage, personal mileage, and energy consumption, and whether it is combustion fuel or electricity. Roche also collects miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe), which measures the fuel efficiency of vehicles that use non-liquid fuel, such as hybrids and EVs.
Data is also collected via home and public chargers and the fleet fuel card. With different sources to manage, “It’s not a smooth process yet,” Etherington says. “It’s daunting data that you have to pull together, and make sure you have the right structure to get the answer that you believe you’re working towards.”
Roche also uses an external partner that provides data on the cleanliness of the energy it uses based on ZIP codes. McKenna says, “That helps us to make purchase decisions. And it also helps us to understand what portion of electricity charged by the driver that was clean electricity, because we’re trying to have everything be zero CO2 impact.”
As part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, McKenna says Roche uses PricewaterhouseCoopers to certify the accuracy of the data.
Sustainability Meets Suitability
The Roche Diagnostics fleet primarily operates in the service and sales sector. The company ensures that the vehicles selected are adequate for their drivers, who carry large equipment, tools bags, and other components needed to provide service.
With multiple components that factor into sustainability, such as vehicle specs, vehicle availability, and ergonomics, “You have to make sure everybody’s in harmonization to make the right decisions and have the right outcome,” Etherington says. “And we’re trying to do that. It’s not easy, but we are not running the race. We’re jogging the race.”
From a fleet perspective, Roche Diagnostics continues to examine whether BEVs are the right vehicles for every geographic area where they operate. Etherington says, “Is going to a full EV the right answer for every state for every person? We’re finding the answer is ‘no’ today.”
That will change, she says, as infrastructure and vehicle technologies improve.
Other factors regarding suitability of EVs are whether the vehicle’s range is enough that the driver wouldn’t need to take extended time to charge during the day, or whether the driver lives in an apartment and could not charge overnight.
Roche Diagnostics is also looking at ways to improve the efficiency of the service and sales team that doesn’t necessarily involve EVs. This includes optimized route planning through a reevaluation of territories and minimizing the number of service people at a stop, Etherington says.
Watch the full video here: