Contributing to a sustainable planet with healthy people, an interview with Philips

Philips_Harald Tepper

Global health technology player Philips occupies a top position in many ESG performance lists: second place in The Wall Street Journal’s 2020 ranking of 100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World, ninth consecutive year in the CDP Climate Change ‘A list’, and a top ESG score of 90 out of 100 according to S&P Global Ratings. By successfully meeting all the targets set out in its 2016 – 2020 ‘Healthy people, Sustainable planet’ program, Philips is one of the first health technology companies in the world that has become fully carbon-neutral in its operations. Time to connect with Philips to hear their take on doing business responsibly and sustainably.

Joeri Van den Bergh connects with Harald Tepper, Program Lead Circular Economy and EcoDesign at Philips, to talk about how the brand fuels ‘conscious consumption’.


Q: Philips places great emphasis on the application of circular-economy thinking, in which ‘EcoDesign’ principles play an important role. What does EcoDesign mean to Philips?

“The difference between EcoDesign and conventional design is the clear goal – right from the start of the innovation and design process – to reduce the total environmental impact. By 2025, all new products that we develop will meet our EcoDesign requirements. Today, 71% or our revenue comes from ‘Green’/ EcoDesigned products. This means we are improving our products’ energy efficiency, using less resources and more recycled content, avoiding the use of hazardous substances, designing for circularity, and making our packaging easier to recycle and re-use. Giving products a second life is a critical part of our circular thinking. In fact, since 2020, consumers across Europe can purchase products that are refurbished, and this at a lower price, still with a two-year warranty.

When it comes to our medical equipment portfolio, we work to enhance and expand the uptime and utilization of our equipment through hardware and software upgrades. We also offer our customers to trade in their large-scale medical equipment for refurbishment or responsible recycling. In 2021, this happened with more than 3,000 systems.”


Q: By embedding circular practices, Philips aims to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate waste from its sites. What are you doing to achieve this?

“First of all, all of Philips’ 25 industrial sites sent zero waste to landfills at year end 2021, and we are broadening this target to also include non-manufacturing sites operated by Philips by 2025. Secondly, we are increasingly focused on Circular Materials Management. This involves recognizing the value of materials and planning for their second and third uses by finding opportunities for re-use, repurposing, refurbishing, reduction (avoidance), composting, supplier packaging reuse, etc. In 2021, we produced approx. 22 kilotons of waste in our operations, 87% of which now gets repurposed.

Next to our own operations, we are expanding our recycling partnership with TerraCycle to ensure power toothbrush heads, electric flosser nozzles and other oral healthcare products are taken care of responsibly after use.

As part of the ‘Philips Dental Care Recycling Programme’, consumers in several European countries can now collect their dental-care products after use and bring them to the nearest drop-off location, where they are taken care of responsibly.

Extending the life cycle of our products through upgrades, and moving from physical products to software-based solutions, are other instruments that play important roles in our drive to become more sustainable. Increasingly, we will also communicate on our consumer website about the sustainability proof points of our products, to motivate end users to make sustainable choices.

We are also experimenting with new service models – like the lease model we have in place for our hair removal device ‘Lumea Prestige’. Consumers subscribe to use the device, and after the subscription period, the devices are returned and are tested, reprocessed and repacked for another use cycle. During their subscription period, consumers are allowed to purchase the device. Experimenting with these models helps us to understand how we can reduce our environmental impact by savings in materials and manufacturing.”

In summary, Philips is committed to phasing out waste by designing for circularity. To drive scale and accelerate growth, the company is teaming up with several partners to facilitate and invest in recycling programs. Overall, their focus on sustainable innovation and new business models is helping Philips to shape a sustainable future for planet and people.

Hungry for more? Check out how other brands such as Perrigo, Royal Canin and Beiersdorf fuel ‘Conscious Consumption’!

Conscious Consumption

Conscious Consumption

Sustainability is a key concern amongst consumers, and this has only increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. This bookzine highlights some of the key barriers amongst consumers as well as their expectations towards brands, through proprietary research, expert interviews with sustainability executives from several industries, and brand illustrations.

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