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Updated: April 1, 2024 / 2024 Manufacturing Excellence Awards

Manufacturing awards: Sustainability efforts help Waters satisfy partners’ needs

A collage of three photos showing the manufacturing operations of Waters Corp. Photos | Courtesy of Waters Corp. Waters Corp. has undertaken a variety of initiatives toward its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 35% by 2025.
2024 Manufacturing Excellence Awards
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Ten years ago, Milford-based Waters Corp. was already working on improving the sustainability of its manufacturing operations and the products it sells to laboratories and other customers around the world. Today, this has gone from a voluntary effort to do the right thing to a crucial part of doing business in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere.

“It comes from all directions,” said David Null, Waters’ vice president of global supply chain. “Not only government stakeholders, but big partners around the world. In part, pharmaceutical customers are really driving a lot of sustainability, and it’s causing us to look at it in a more focused way.”

Waters’ early start in sustainability has given it a reputation as a leader. In 2023 alone, the company made the grade for Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, USA Today’s Climate Leaders, and Newsweek’s America’s Most Responsible Companies.

One of Waters’ high-profile green achievements was the 2022 Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification of its Taunton manufacturing facility, the first chemical plant in the state to achieve that distinction. The facility takes clean gray water previously used for production purposes like cooling and recycles it for uses like landscaping and flushing toilets.

A fact box on Waters Corp., winner of the Green Manufacturing Award
Waters Corp. bio box

Across its global footprint, Waters is reducing its contribution to climate change. Since 2016, the company reports to have cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27% and is moving toward a 35% reduction by 2025. One piece of this effort is the transition to electric and hybrid vehicles for transportation needs.

Waters uses rooftop solar to provide power for two of its plants globally and plans to install panels at its Milford site within the next 18 months and eventually at its Taunton location.

To balance out the company’s use of electricity from the grid, it uses what’s known as virtual power purchase agreements. This allows Waters to invest in solar and wind farms in places like Texas and Vermont, helping to make the country’s electrical system greener overall. The company uses purchases of renewable energy certificates, which incentivize the installation of clean energy, to fill in the gaps in its green energy plans, Null said. Because RECs represent clean power sources already in the system, Waters considers them more of a last resort.

Another key to sustainability, for both Waters and its customers and suppliers, is designing products and packaging to be easily recycled, and to conserve resources. For example, the company’s TQ Absolute mass spectrometer system uses about half the electricity and nitrogen and creates about half as much heat, when compared to similar instruments. Its components and packaging are made partly from recycled materials.

“We know our customers are looking for this,” Null said.

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