Environmental Sustainability

At Sigma-Aldrich, we are finding ways to increase our sustainability from procurement to production. With a global environmental management system for all of our facilities, we have invaluable data that helps guide our decisions and investments to reach the next level of sustainability.

Waste Intensity

Increased transparency and reporting of waste generation is a direct result of engagement with our local EH&S and Facilities teams, helping us to identify opportunities for reduction or beneficial reuse.

Waste Goal

20% Intensity Improvement by 2015



80% Complete

2013 Waste Totals


2013 Recycling Totals


Recycling at Sigma-Aldrich

Sheri Williams, Facilities Team Leader, started her Process Improvement by identifying the opportunity. In 2012, our Teutonia facility in Milwaukee had become Sigma-Aldrich’s main CDC, handling an increased volume of shipments from all around the world. With this increased volume came increased recycling volumes, almost 4x the amount of cardboard, but also increased waste from other materials. Sheri created a project to help reduce the amount of waste generated at the Teutonia site by focusing on shrink wrap. She partnered with a local waste provider to investigate possible means to recycle shrink wrap since we couldn’t recycle it in our traditional in-house channels. After several tests conducted with our distribution teams, Sheri is on her way to recycling more than 20 tons of shrink wrap annually. This is just one example of how our employees are taking an active ownership of Global Citizenship at the individual level.

Emissions Intensity

The issue of climate change continues to pose a threat to the world. In response we continue to make progress toward our 20% intensity in carbon emitted per dollar sold. Working to mitigate annual increases and finding innovative ways to grow our business and manage our carbon footprint.

Emissions Goal

20% Intensity Improvement by 2015



60% Complete

Emissions Numbers


2013 Emissions

Scope 1 Direct Emissions



NORMALIZED VALUE: .00002 tonnes/sales $

Scope 1 emissions are comprised of Natural Gas, Fuel Oil, Kerosense, Diesel, Gasoline, LPG

Scope 2 Indirect Emissions



NORMALIZED VALUE: .00006 tonnes/sales $

Scope 1 emissions are comprised of Natural Gas, Fuel Oil, Kerosense, Diesel, Gasoline, LPG

Sigma-Aldrich's 2013 Carbon Footprint


Scope 1



Scope 2



Scope 3


Total CO2

Water Efficiency

Water is becoming a scarce natural resource around the world. Sigma-Aldrich utilization of water in our production processes has reduced annually for the past three years. We are committed to continue our work to reduce water usage in production at our facilities around the world.

Water Goal

30% Intensity Improvement by 2015



100% Complete

Water Scarcity Risk


Global Water Usage

To better understand our water usage, Sigma-Aldrich mapped each large Production, R&D and Distribution site using the WRI Aqueduct tool. We found limited risk, with facilities in high risk areas requiring limited amounts of water for production.


17% of our facilities are located in designated biodiversity hotspots, but account for only 6.3% of our total CO2 emissions and 3% of our total water use. 

Sites include Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Carlsbad, California; Jerusalem and Rehovot, Israel; Hokkaido, Ichikawa, Ishikari, Ichikawa, Osaka and Tokyo, Japan; and Singapore.

Energy Efficiency

Proactive management of our energy efficiency is one of our greatest opportunities at Sigma-Aldrich. Through our Top 10 Facilities project we aim to invest in facilities to improve their efficiency by working to reduce our energy requirements helping us to also achieve reductions in our carbon footprint.

Energy Goal

20% Intensity Improvement by 2015



50% Complete

Natural Gas and Electricity Numbers


Global Energy Usage - Electricity



China: 1,860,853
Germany: 9,038,636
India: 2,917,579
Israel: 13,137,218
Switzerland: 7,887,335
Taiwan: 3,060,642
United Kingdom: 18,857,077
United Statesv 165,133,440

Global Energy Usage - Natural Gas



Brazil: 27,809
Germany: 141,895
Ireland: 446,762
United Kingdom: 773,069
United States: 8,564,632

Supply Chain Transparency

Sigma-Aldrich understands the importance of our customers’ confidence with product transparency through its supply chain. Our strong history of quality control and assurance has prepared us to broaden our relationships with suppliers to include social and environmental management engagement.

Supply Chain Goal

Top 200 Suppliers Surveyed by 2015

50% Complete

Supply Chain Progress




This phase included the SA7 questionnaire response period, where we collected data from our current suppliers then tracked and analyzed data related to environmental and social impact and whether they have established goals for improvements.


Current Impact

In Progress

After establishing an expectation for transparency and data availability, we are now assessing the current environmental and social impact of each supplier based on their reported data. Using this information, we can determine risk profiles for each supplier and whether further action and engagement is necessary.


Active Improvement

The final phase will hold each supplier accountable for taking active measures to improve their environmental and social impact. We will set goals collectively for our entire supplier base and then regularly assess progress toward these goals. We will support our main suppliers, working collaboratively with them to continually improve performance.


Air to Ocean Story

In 2013, we once again realized significant improvements and gains from our Air to Ocean project. By analyzing all of the ocean routes we use to move product and raw materials, starting with shipments leaving our Teutonia facility in Milwaukee and following the shipments to their final destination at our Schnelldorf facility in Germany, we were able to implement significant reductions in total transit time; from approximately 30 days to 19 days.

This reduction in transit time allows us to ship more of our slow selling products via ocean, a less expensive and more environmentally friendly alternative to air transport, without having to worry about back-orders or service issues for our customers. Some of the operational changes we made include loading the container on site versus consolidating at a freight forwarder and trucking our containers directly to the port in New York.

The successful extension of this project to our SAFC Commercial Business Unit enabled us to significantly reduce Scope 3 emissions for upstream transportation and distribution; total reduction in 2013 was 1,900 tonnes as compared to 701 metric tonnes in 2012.

We plan to continue our focus on optimization of materials and product transportation through the evaluation of other potential opportunities to move freight by ocean rather than air.

Greener Alternative Products

As part of the GC1015 Initiative, Sigma-Aldrich committed to developing a strategy to reformulate target products to reduce the environmental impact through research and development efforts. We are moving closer to our goal of providing customers with a clear understanding of how our efforts in research and development translate into a better choice.

Greener Alternative Products Goal

25% increase in sales of our 2,563 Greener Alternative Products



56% Complete

Greener Alternative Products Sales


Greener Alternative Matrix

Our goal of providing consumers with safe, efficient and environmentally responsible products starts with making sure that our customers receive full disclosure as to why certain products may be more sustainable than others. Currently, there is no reasonable quantitative standard in our industry that explains a product’s environmental impact. A consistent and easy-to-understand system is an important tool to help consumers make informed decisions about “greener” products.

To address this issue, we launched a project to quantitatively determine relative “greenness” of a product based on the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

Green Chemistry

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of β-amylase, which is an enzyme that degrades starch into sugar. Sigma-Aldrich re-engineered how we manufacture β-amylase using the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry to minimize environmental impacts and improve production. Here's what we did:


Reduce Raw Materials

Reduced the amount of raw materials (sweet potatoes) needed by 4,000 lbs


Eliminate Acetone

Eliminated the use of 1,700 gallons Acetone in the preparation


Reduce Energy Usage

Eliminated the need for elevated temperature and pressure, reducing energy usage


Increase Product

Increased the yield of the product

Global Citizenship Awards 2013

Each year Sigma-Aldrich recognizes those who made significant contributions to the Global Citizenship program. From R&D initiatives within the Green Chemistry project, to energy and water efficiency improvements at our facilities and health initiatives that benefit employees, our internal innovations continue to advance Sigma-Aldrich’s social mission.

1st Place

Air to Ocean Team

Two teams transitioned freight shipments from air freight to the lower carbon footprint method of ocean freight, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of our distribution by almost 2,000 metric tonnes.

Team Members: Kristin Blum, Shelley Coleman, Rob Deeks, Matt Fiedler, Ken Goldstein, Martin Gordon, Peter Guettinger, Matthias Jaeger, Tina Montgomery, Jason Noll, Mark Reinholz, Rob Ricci, Jim Scadden, Konrad Siczek and Tobin Sykes



2nd Place

Packaging Enhancements

Procurement, Packaging Engineering and Distribution partnered to introduce two significant changes for 4x4L solvent shipments with a molded pulp solution and the replacement of polystyrene peanuts in shipments which is estimated to remove 210,000 cubic feet of polystyrene annually.

Team Members: Jill Jacobson-Kent, Carrie Ann Haver, Aleks Zivkovic, John Irving, Jason Noll, Stacy Kingston, Brandon Finger


3rd Place (Tie)

Project 1: Redesign of the synthesis for 1-Aminobenzotriazole

This redesign reduced the process from a 4-step synthesis to a single step, cutting the work time by 22 days per batch. The new process also eliminated the use of many hazardous chemicals, including a Pd/C reaction and 40% of the orignal organic solvents needed for the procedure.

Team Members: Shlomo Sayag, Malka Gebel, Inbal Aped, Israel Sharfstein, Efrat Manaster, Itzhak Ergaz

Project 2: Beneficial Reuse

Diverted 15,545lb of material from the waste disposal process by researching and identifying 15 different materials that could be reused, sold back to vendors, or recycled, more than 11,000 lb of CO2 emissions were saved.

Team Members: Hari Kota