Growing green credentials for Earth Day

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Lisa Hjalmarsson, Global Sustainability Manager, talks about what Elekta is doing to help make a positive difference to the planet

For more than half a decade, April 22 has been heralded as Earth Day. It was originally created to raise awareness of the environmental condition of the U.S. and bring the issues into the country’s national agenda. The day is now marked internationally, and this year’s theme is about restoring the earth.


Lisa Hjalmarsson, Global Sustainability Manager

To mark the occasion, Lisa Hjalmarsson, Global Sustainability Manager, talks about what Elekta is doing to help make a positive difference to the planet.

“One of the main focuses of my role is recognizing risks and identifying opportunities where Elekta can make the largest impact and ensuring that our sustainability agenda is in line with stakeholder expectations. In doing so, might involve driving programs that have been lacking. With the ever-increasing gravity of the climate change issue, it became clear to us that no matter how big or small the impact, we needed to ramp up our climate agenda and look more carefully at our processes in order to minimize our environmental footprint. The past year gave us the perfect opportunity to scrutinize what we were doing and assess what could be done to improve it.”

Measuring and target setting

“There are three areas called scopes to explore when looking at greenhouse gas emissions. Scope one covers the emissions from a company’s own manufacturing processes. Scope two is heating and electricity. Scope three is difficult to have direct control over, as it includes the emissions caused when suppliers and supplier’s suppliers manufacture the materials and components a company purchases – often the biggest category for manufacturing companies focused on assembly.

“To find a true environmentally friendly solution, a company must come up with a plan to reduce the emissions from all three areas and as we have almost no emissions in scope one so we can focus fully on the second and third scope.

“We have been measuring and reporting our emissions in all three scopes for a couple of years and each year our calculations are becoming more accurate. Last year we established a dedicated program with environmental targets where we for example set an aim to reduce our power emissions by a minimum of 30% across all major sites by 2022. In less than 12 months we are already on a good track to achieve that target since our sites in the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are now all running on 100% renewable energy, with the Netherlands’ power being produced by a windmill only three miles away from the site. In locations where it is not possible to influence a change on power supply, we are looking at offsetting those emissions by purchasing renewable energy certificates.

“In less than 12 months we are already on a good track to achieve that target since our sites in the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are now all running on 100% renewable energy.”

Transport and travel

“Scope three also covers emissions from transport and business travel which is an area where you can have an incredible impact. We are working with our transport providers to enable more efficient coordination, shortening the transportation routes and preference towards road or sea freight over air. Finding environmentally friendly solutions is often a win-win but may involve some balance of interests, for example when moving away from just-in-time deliveries.

“We have also updated our travel policy in order to clarify for people to not travel in business unless absolutely necessary, and wherever train or road traveling allows, chose that over the plane.  The pandemic year, where our travel emissions went down about 90 percent, has proven to us that we can successfully coordinate major projects and conferences across borders and continents, without having to physically travel.

“We understand that it takes time to change behavior, and change doesn’t come completely without sacrifice, so our approach is to speak more about our policies and goals to enable people to accept the reasons and see the sense behind them.”

The reuse of resources

“One activity that has been ramped up during the past year is our approach to reusing and refurbishing parts of our machinery. Our Gamma Knife® radiosurgery system was the first product we adopted this approach with as it uses a lot of heavy metal such as the tungsten collimator – the shielding for the radioactive rays.

“We have scaled this practice up and implemented the approach across our product lines, especially our Linac line which represents the largest part of the business. We now take back and refurbish 21 different components from our linear accelerators and we continue to identify new components fit for refurbishment. This circular approach hasn’t come without logistic challenges, but it is slowly and steadily proving itself viable, and builds on good practice.

“Customers want to know that we are doing the right thing and the reality is that we can’t keep taking and using new resources as there isn’t an endless supply.”

“Customers want to know that we are doing the right thing and the reality is that we can’t keep taking and using new resources as there isn’t an endless supply.”


At our site in Crawley, UK where no waste goes to landfill

“Alongside our aim of lowering our CO2 emissions and increasing product refurbishment, we are also dedicated to decreasing landfill.

“At our largest manufacturing site, situated in the UK, we are making good progress. This year we have gone from sending about 1,000 tons to landfill monthly to zero waste and we are also sending nothing to landfill in our other major sites in Europe. We are working with our landlords in North America, where we have many offices, as well as in Beijing, to drive change towards zero waste.

Paris Agreement

“We fully stand behind the Paris Agreement of 2015 and we are dedicated to set our targets fully in line with this in the hope we can play our part in limiting global warming to below two degrees.  We want to contribute the best we can to help achieve this.

“Everyone must take responsibility for future generations and that of the earth itself.” We are committed to keep building on our foundation and aspire to be an actor that peers and others can look to for inspiration on our approach to combat climate change.

“Everyone must take responsibility for future generations and that of the earth itself.”

Learn more about sustainability at Elekta.

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