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Case Studies

LCA Demonstrates Clarisolve® Water, Waste and Energy Savings

Pre-Flushing Products Use Large Volumes of Water for Injection

Stephanie McGary
Head of Marketing, Ultrafiltration, Clarification and Virus Safety
Bedford, MA

Nripen Singh
Senior Research Scientist
Bedford, MA

Pre-flushing products with water for injection (WFI) in pharmaceutical manufacturing is common and requires large volumes of this highly pure water. However, Clarisolve® Depth Filter® was designed using filter media that requires significantly less flushing by the customer. To quantify this difference for customers in terms of life cycle energy demand, global warming potential and waste and water savings during use, Merck conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA).

Understanding Environmental Benefits of Clarisolve®

The scope of the LCA included a cradle-to-grave assessment, including materials production and transport, manufacturing, distribution, use and end-of-life, comparing Clarisolve® to Millistak+® Pod. The functional unit used to compare like with like across the products was “production of one batch of mAb output.” According to the study results, Clarisolve® saves customers 46%, or 1800L, of WFI per batch and reduces solid waste by 24% per batch, which is equivalent to five years worth of waste generated by the average American. In addition, the results directionally indicate an overall life cycle reduction in energy demand and global warming potential for Clarisolve® of approximately 12% and 8.5%, respectively, predominately resulting from use-phase improvements. The energy reduction is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of six American households, while the avoided emissions are equivalent to avoiding the burning of 22 barrels of oil.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve our products in order to best meet our customers’ needs, including helping them to reduce their environmental impacts,” said Stephanie McGary, head of Marketing, Ultrafiltration, Clarification and Virus Safety. “The LCA data allows us to demonstrate the direct environmental benefits of our clarification product to our customers and provides us with the information necessary to continue to make sustainability improvements to the overall product lifecycle.”


1 Compared to Merck's process-scale Millistak+® Pod depth filter

Leveraging LCA Results for Further Life Cycle Improvements

The results from the LCA not only highlighted the benefits of Clarisolve®, but it also revealed a critical manufacturing process used to treat the membrane filters that consumes a major portion of the product’s life cycle energy and results in an overall greater manufacturing impact in terms of CO2e, as compared to Pod. Although the other life cycle phase improvements offset this major impact area, the Clarisolve® product team is leveraging the LCA data and working closely with internal and external stakeholders to determine how to improve the manufacturing process to further reduce the overall footprint for Clarisolve®.

Innovative Solution for Fuel Cells Can Produce Zero-Emission Automobiles

The Challenge of Mass Market Zero-Emission Automobiles

Zeeshan Mahmood
Strategic Marketing Manager,
Fuel Cells
Darmstadt, Germany

Transportation produces 14% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally - equivalent to over 1,779 billion liters of gasoline – with road transport accounting for 74% of that. As a result, automobiles with absolutely no pollutant emissions offer exciting prospects for manufacturers, customers, and the environment. Merck is developing a new type of catalyst coating that will help pave the way for mass production of fuel cell vehicles. Fuel cells are the great hope of the automotive industry. The technology transforms chemical energy into electricity that can power a vehicle with zero emissions.

At the beginning of 2013, current zero-emission prototypes cost €80,000 to manufacture. One reason for the high price is that approximately 60 grams of platinum are needed in a fuel cell to produce an electrical output of 80-100 kilowatts, which is the power required by a typical mid-range passenger car. The platinum catalyst material alone currently costs around €5,000, which makes the price of a fuel cell vehicle too high to compete with a vehicle powered by a combustion engine.

New Catalyst Coating Method Provides Innovative Solution for Fuel Cells

In an effort to develop a new and much less expensive catalyst coating method for fuel cells, Zeeshan Mahmood, strategic marketing manager, Fuel Cells, and researchers at Merck KGaA, came up with an innovative idea to use Merck membrane know how to construct cheaper and more heat tolerant fuel cells that can serve as the foundation of more efficient renewable energy sources. Together with the research team, Zeeshan submitted the idea to Merck KGaA’s Innospire Challenge, which serves to stimulate idea sourcing from employees of every division and capture the company’s full innovation potential. After winning the Innospire Challenge, Zeeshan and his team of three formalized and expanded the project.

Led by Zeeshan, an Merck Performance Materials and Merck cross-divisional team of 10 is now working on new technology for clean vehicles that will produce zero emissions by using fuel cells. These vehicles will be commercially viable for consumers.

“We are always looking for new ways to do business and create disruptive technology innovations,” said Zeeshan. “The catalyst coating method we have developed enables us to reduce the platinum requirement to only 10 grams per car, as opposed to the current requirement of 60 grams, while maintaining the same performance and durability as the higher loading membrane electrode assembly. As we scale up the project with testing and production, we’ll be able to develop fuel cells for the mass market.”

Automotive Industry Customers Buy into Proof of Concept

In the U.S., the team is working closely with a number of outside organizations, including leading universities and major automotive manufacturers, to apply catalyst research and enhance the first generation of fuel cells. Meanwhile, in Germany, the second generation of research is underway, focusing on membrane improvement and development. More specifically, the research aims to increase the temperature range of the existing membrane and decrease or eliminate a need for humidification.

Some major automotive industry customers have already positively assessed the new method’s proof of concept, which previously had been tested only in a laboratory. If further feedback is positive, Zeeshan and his team plan to develop an industrial manufacturing process for the components that meets the stringent quality requirements of the automotive sector.

“Innospire allowed our cross divisional ideas to flourish. I’m excited to embark on the next phase of the project and see where it takes us,” Zeeshan remarked.

Design for Sustainability (DfS) Principles Reduce Environmental and Health Impacts of EZ-Fit™ Manifold

Charged with Designing New Laboratory Filtration Manifold

Fabien Thibault
Packaging Engineer & Design for Sustainability Leader
Molsheim, France

Frederic Amstoutz
Product Manager Bioburden
Molsheim, France

Our BioMonitoring R&D team, including by Fabien Thibault, packaging engineer and Design for Sustinability leader, and Frederic Amstoutz, product manager Bioburden, set out to design a new laboratory filtration manifold to replace the existing Hydrosol manifold product offering. Intent on meeting customer needs for more ergonomic operation of the device and simpler cleaning procedures, the team also wanted to improve the sustainability of the product by reducing resource use.

Taking a Design for Sustainability Approach

In approaching a new manifold design, the team considered feedback from laboratory filtration users worldwide and across applications that former manifolds were too heavy, difficult to take apart and difficult to clean. Combining this with their knowledge that our shipping resulted in increased emissions and customer processes required a lot of energy during autoclaving, it was clear – the manifold re-design was a perfect target for our Design for Sustainability program.

“By building in sustainability considerations, like waste reduction and ease of use of the product early in the design phase, our team was able to not only significantly improve sustainability of the product, but we were also able to select design choices that minimized cost,” Frederic explained. “On top of that, we were able to do so without compromising on quality of performance of the product.”

The new EZ-Fit™ Manifold is lighter and easier to use in laminar flow hoods. It has quick-fit connections for the filtration heads, allowing easy access for cleaning and adaptability to use different sized heads. The semi-circular ‘end supports’ are the result of design iterations that ultimately have lower manufacturing scrap – 0.32 kg, or 20% per end support – and cost. After the product’s 10 year validated lifetime, it can be easily disassembled and over 95% of its parts are recyclable, where appropriate infrastructure exists.

Impact Reductions Result in Positive Outcome for Customers and the Environment

The six-place manifold uses 47% less raw material in comparison with the Hydrosol manifold, reducing raw material depletion and resulting in per product shipping emissions reduction of 38%, or the equivalent of saving 240 hours of light bulb use (75 watt incandescent bulb). Because the filtration heads can be easily removed for cleaning between periodic full device cleanings, only 10% of the autoclave volume that is required to clean the whole device is needed to clean the heads, saving electricity and water. An estimated 91% reduction in autoclave-associated carbon emissions from this space-saving is equivalent to avoiding burning 3.8 liters of gasoline. The packaging for the device is 100% recyclable corrugated board, simplifying handling for our customers. Recycling the product components at the end of its useful life avoids emissions equivalent to those from burning 3.8 liters of gas.

Compared to Merck's Hydrosol Manifold (click image to enlarge)

The EZ-Fit™ Manifold demonstrates the kinds of improvements we aim to make across our product portfolio, and marks an important step on that journey."Customers increasingly seek more sustainable products,” said Fabien. “Therefore, as part of our Design for Sustainability program, we have developed a number of tools to drive sustainability across the product development process. The development of the EZ-Fit™ Manifold is a great example of how we apply innovative thinking from the beginning of the product design process to not only bring our customers solutions that make a difference, but also to reduce our impact on human health and the environment”

For more information, please see the EZ-Fit™ Manifold fact sheet.

Foam Reduction with Q-Pod®/E-Pod® Packaging

Packaging Requirements Challenge Material Changes

Christian Guillermond
R&D Product Safety & Regulatory Affairs Specialist; Design for Sustainability Leader Guyancourt, France

Michele Roth
Specialist Procurement Sourcing Segment Production
Molsheim, France

Stephane Mabic

WW Application & Training Manager
Guyancourt, France

Protective packaging is required in order to safely ship Merck’s laboratory water purification systems to customers. To date, these systems have been safely packaged using polyethylene (PE) foam and expanded polystyrene cushioning. However, not only are these materials bulky, they are not recyclable in all locations. To address these issues, a team working on the laboratory water purification systems, including Christian Guillermond, Stephane Mabic, Michele Roth, Christian Ringeisen and Nicolas Hirth, sought an alternative packaging solution that would eliminate the bulkiness and reduce environmental impacts.

Molded Pulp Replaces Expanded Polystyrene

The team first evaluated the packaging used for its Milli-Q® Advantage and Milli-Q® Reference Water Purification Systems lab water systems. Based on the evaluation, the team tried alternative cushioning options, and were able to achieve the needed protection that was formerly supplied by a second box. As a result, the packaging only required one box, as opposed to the two inner and outer boxes used previously.

The team then took the packaging project a step further, replacing the expanded polystyrene used to ship Q-Pod® and E-Pod® accessories for the systems with custom molded pulp cushioning material. The molded pulp, which is made from 100% recycled fiber, is fully recyclable and biodegradable.

“We recognize that corporate responsibility is just as important to our customers as it is to us,” said Stephane Mabic, Worldwide Application & Training Manager. “When working on this packaging project, it was important for us to find a high quality solution that reduced our environmental impacts and did not compromise on properly protecting our products while in transit.”

Packaging Improvements Lead to Multiple Reductions

As a result of the packaging changes, Merck is saving a total of €75,000 in raw material costs and approximately 18 tons of corrugated cardboard annually, which is a 25% reduction. As a result, there is a reduction of over 100 metric tons of CO2e, the equivalent of avoiding the emissions from consuming 241 barrels of oil.

Making the switch to the molded pulp packaging material for one unit of the Q-Pod® and E-Pod® accessories has reduced emissions (CO2e/kg) by over 90%. In addition, it has led to space-saving improvements in both warehouses and at customer sites, reducing the number of pallets required to store the material by 90% and resulting in cost savings of €13,000.

Merck and Baxter BioScience Collaborate to Move from Wooden to Plastic Pallets

Igniting Action Through Customer Demand

Jennifer Sia
Associate Customer Service Manager, Singapore

Ashley Nai
Operations Supervisor, Singapore

Merck products were originally shipped to Baxter BioScience ADVATE manufacturing facility in Singapore on wooden pallets. However, those pallets would normally take up a significant amount of floor space and would end up in a landfill after use. With a focus on reducing its environmental impact, Baxter International wanted to identify opportunities to minimize impacts, particularly in how it was receiving products from its suppliers. Wong Chian Fang, supply chain manager, Baxter BioScience Manufacturing SARL, Singapore Branch, turned to Merck for a solution.

Simplifying Processes and Reducing Emissions

Jennifer Sia, associate customer service manager, and Ashley Nai, operations supervisor, along with their respective teams at Merck, worked closely in collaboration with Wong Chian Fang to shift from using wooden pallets for product delivery to plastic pallets. The collaboration took into consideration all logistics, from delivery to shipment to warehouse.

“We worked directly with the Baxter BioScience manufacturing facility to start delivering materials and products in plastic pallets instead of wooden ones,” said Jennifer. “By using the plastic pallets, we are able to help Baxter simplify its processes, preserve critical floor space and have a turnaround when recycling.”

All Merck products that are shipped to the manufacturing facility are now delivered on the plastic pallets. As a result of the collaboration, enough wooden pallets sent to landfills were eliminated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 13 metric tons, the equivalent of 5,538 gallons of gasoline consumed.

Forming an Ongoing Collaborative Partnership

Merck was one of the first suppliers to work with Baxter’s supply chain team at this newly constructed facility to ensure shipped products had a positive environmental impact. As a result, in 2012 Baxter awarded Merck with the e-Impact supplier certificate which recognizes environmental initiatives launched in collaboration with the company’s suppliers.

“We are so honored to be recognized by Baxter for this project,” said Ashley. “It was truly a collaborative team effort across both Merck and Baxter Bioscience. We are excited to work on future corporate responsibility initiatives with Baxter to further reduce the overall environmental impact of both our companies.”

The collaboration is evolving and expanding with additional sustainability initiatives in progress to further reduce environmental impact.

Reusing Excess Solvents in Other Industrial Processes

Excess Methanol Disposal as Hazardous Waste


Bobby Young
EHS Engineer Consultant
Bedford, MA

Bedford’s Merck R&D facility conducts pilot scale manufacturing of micro-filtration membranes used for a variety of special purposes, including pharmaceutical applications. One of 540 employees on the 30-acre site, EHS Engineer Consultant Bobby Young keeps close track of incoming raw materials and outgoing products and wastes. The highest volume substance received by the plant is methanol, used to harden the thin layers of flat plastic sheet – known as “roll stock membrane” -- into solid filter. Most of the used methanol is refined and reclaimed for reuse on-site. However, the process still generates large quantities of excess methanol, which must be disposed of as a hazardous waste due to its flammability and toxicity.

Under the strict U.S. laws that govern the handling and disposal of hazardous wastes, the plant’s used methanol was being trucked hundreds of miles to special facilities where it could be burned as fuel. Since there were limits on the company’s authorized capacity to store the used methanol on site, waste management services provider, Veolia Environmental Services, was required to make multiple trips to the site each week at unpredictable times to remove the waste. This process was not only inefficient, but it was also extremely costly.

A Breakthrough Idea

Bobby Young looked for an environmentally sustainable solution for the used methanol. “Finding innovative ways to protect the environment is something of a personal passion,” he said.

The breakthrough idea came to Bobby at a conference of wastewater treatment experts in Baltimore where one of the topics was about industrial waste products that could be used as raw materials in other industrial processes. One example was substances, such as methanol, that could be used in sewage treatment plants to reduce nitrogen in wastewater.

Bobby contacted Veolia Environmental Services and Veolia Water to discuss possible solutions, and they identified one of their customers, the city of Danbury, Connecticut, as a potential user for the regulated recyclable material. The Danbury biological wastewater treatment plant was using expensive virgin methanol in the “de-nitrification” process to remove nitrogen from the wastewater. “Too much nitrogen creates algae blooms,” explained Bobby Young. “It’s not good for the fish. The methanol acts as a catalyst, serving as a carbon food source for bacteria that convert the nitrates and nitrites into nitrogen gas.”

Veolia Water specialists conducted two years of extensive testing to ensure the safety of the solution. Once the testing was complete, the project was approved by state and local officials.

A Win-Win Solution

With permission finally granted, the first shipment of Merck’s regulated recyclable material arrived in Danbury in August 2011, where it has since been fully integrated into the wastewater treatment plant’s processes. The accomplishment provides substantial benefits for all involved. Instead of paying to dispose of its used methanol as a hazardous waste,  Merck saves the equivalent of about 10 euro cents per liter regulated recyclable material, or about €200,000 annually. Meanwhile, the city of Danbury saves between 15-33% of the costs of purchasing virgin methanol, a petroleum product subject to high price volatility. For both Veolia Environmental Services and Veolia Water, in addition to delivering added value for their respective customers, there is a shared satisfaction of finding a more sustainable solution for the environment and for the fish.

Reducing Carbon Footprint by Shifting from Air to Sea Freight

The Impacts of Shipping by Air


Fabrice Schneider
Head of End to End Supply Chain Processes
Molsheim, France

Merck ships thousands of products to customers globally. With product quality and on-time delivery to customers as a top priority, we previously shipped close to 100% of our products by air in some regions. This shipping method not only meets the specific temperature and humidity requirements our products require, but it also allows for shorter lead times. However, the climate change impacts of air shipping are significant, with CO2e emissions roughly 30 times higher per ton-mile than shipment by sea.

Shifting from Air to Sea

In order to efficiently move product without delaying service, Fabrice Schneider, Head of End to End Supply Chain Processes, worked with our Customer Fulfillment and Distribution teams to identify select products on certain shipping routes that could be sent by sea freight instead of being shipped by air.

“We initially focused on internal shipments between major distribution centers within the worldwide network,” said Fabrice. “To identify what shipments we could shift from air to sea, we looked specifically at those products that can safely withstand the longer travel time at sea, without compromising on product quality and service level to the customer.”

Based on the team’s analysis, they have identified a subset of approximately 150 products that will be shifted to sea freight between U.S. and Europe. Building on this analysis and initial success, the team has now expanded its scope to include mode shift for shipments along a variety of different routes, including from Europe to Asia, U.S. to Asia and U.S. to Latin America.

Significant Reduction in Emissions

When the mode shift project between the U.S. and Europe is fully implemented in 2014, Merck will eliminate approximately 3,000 metric tonnes of CO2e emissions per year. This 95% decrease is equivalent to removing 600 passenger vehicles from the road for a year, or the annual emissions from the electricity use of 226 homes. In addition, the project will reduce costs by €1.5 million annually.

Cork Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Reduces Pollutants

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supports Manufacturing Operations

Water has a significant impact on our operations. At Merck’s Cork, Ireland site, the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is in continuous operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to support production operations and treat all the production wastewater flows from the manufacturing areas. In operation for over 22 years, the WWTP was extended organically as the process demands increased and needed to be re-evaluated for future manufacturing operations.

New WWTP Design Addresses Challenges

In 2011, we conducted a comprehensive engineering study to quantify existing WWTP plant loads and compile product load profiles to support future manufacturing operations. Based on the study, Merck identified a number of plant challenges, including odor emissions for the WWTP environs and that the site plot plan was land locked on three sides. In order to address these challenges, while simultaneously ensuring continued robust process operations and reliability, Merck developed and implemented a new schematic design led by Project Engineer Kieran Twomey and Maintenance & Facilities Manager Dan Donovan.

Upgraded WWTP Improves Water Quality and Capacity

Merck:/Freestyle/DIV-Divisional/Corporate-Responsibility/CR-Images/Wastewater-Treatment-Plant-400.jpg Merck’s Cork, Ireland Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP)

“In order to improve water quality, as well as to ensure continued compliance, robust process operations and reliability, we redesigned and upgraded the WWTP,” explained Dan. “The new plant has effectively reduced the amount of organic pollutants found in its wastewater by more than 95%.”

In addition, the plant re-design and upgrade:

  • Consistently achieved final effluent standards specified by the Irish EPA
  • Significantly reduced the chemical consumption by more than 50% and
  • Automated the Aeration Control Step to Dissolved Oxygen Control and achieved energy savings of 30%

These direct savings, improved water quality and ultimate capacity of the upgraded WWTP will ensure that Cork Manufacturing Operations can be fully supported in the future.

Employees Reduce Personal Carbon Emissions with MilliMove Rideshare Program

Employees Strive to Reduce Their Carbon Emissions


Frederic Cerveau
EHS Coordinator
Molsheim, France

Employees at Merck’s Molsheim, France site were looking for ways in which they could reduce their own personal carbon emissions in their daily commute to and from work. They identified rideshare opportunities as one such solution.

Online Tool Facilitates Carpooling

In order to help facilitate rideshare opportunities among employees, EHS Coordinator Frederic Cerveau helped to develop the MilliMove Rideshare Program. Started in 2009, MilliMove facilitates carpooling among employees through an online tool linking fellow carpoolers. Interested employees can sign up for the program and use the online tool to identify and contact other employees who live in the same vicinity as them to coordinate rideshare options.

MilliMove Saves Costs and Minimizes Environmental Impact

“We just celebrated the 5 year anniversary of the program, and I hope it will be more popular in 2014,” explained Frederic. “Participating employees are not only seeing personal savings in their everyday travel costs, but they are also able to easily minimize their environmental impact.”

With over 200 employees participating in the program and making an average round trip of 50 kilometers to and from the Molsheim facility, MilliMove takes 112 cars off the road and saves 247 metric tons of CO2 each year through carpooling.

Employees Race to Provide Vital Water Testing Equipment to Aid Typhoon Victims

Most Powerful Typhoon Devastates Central Philippines


Cindy Paquette
Manager, BioMonitoring Technical Services Group
Billerica, MA

Joe Silverberg
Director, Global Provantage Sales
Billerica, MA

In the early hours of Friday, November 8, the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall battered the central Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 5,600 people, millions lost their homes, and communities suffered without basic human needs like potable water. Water Missions International, a nonprofit Christian engineering organization providing sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions, stepped in to try to alleviate some of the suffering. Pat Haughney, an employee at Water Missions International, reached out to Merck for help.

Pat, who worked at Merck for about 14 years and now travels the world to set up water filtration systems for people in developing countries and disaster areas, realized that he was short of vital supplies when he was on a barge on his way to the Philippines to help with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. He needed kits and hardware from Merck that would allow him to test the water coming out of the water filtration systems to ensure that it is safe for people to drink. Due to the severity of the need, he was unable to wait for normal shipping procedures to deliver these products. He contacted long-time Merck employees Joe Silverberg and Vin Donovan.

Employees Collaborate to Make an Impact

Since the request came in on a Sunday, it took some extra effort to find someone who could personally handle the product request, which included Microfil filtration funnels and the vacuum manifolds needed to use them. Cindy Paquette, manager of the BioMonitoring Technical Services group, volunteered to help. Reaching out to the Merck Giving Program, Cindy obtained funding to pay for the devices and shipping costs. When the necessary parts were not immediately available in inventory, she went the extra mile and donated one EZ-Fit™ Manifold and one older manifold from the Technical Service training program to send ahead of the main order to fill the gap. After hearing about the story, regional marketing colleagues donated six boxes of Microfil funnels to ship as well.

“This was a great example of everyone stepping in to assist in this important mission to help the people in the devastated Philippines,” said Cindy. “It made me proud to work with so many people who live the Merck values and care about others less fortunate than themselves.”

Products Donated Ensure Safe, Clean Drinking Water

The water testing products provided by Merck can make a significant difference in the lives of people devastated by a natural catastrophe. “It’s very reassuring when we’re handing out drinking water to people in great need that we know it has been tested for bacteria,” said Pat.

The Water Missions International staff sets up water filtration systems at multiple locations throughout the affected area. During the day they collect water samples from their water treatment equipment, both before and after treatment, and then they bring the samples back to their base of operations and run the tests at night. They use the Microfil filtration equipment to test for total coliform and e-coli bacteria in the drinking water. Typically, the untreated water has significant bacteria present, but with proper treatment neither type of bacteria is present.

“Given the vital work of Water Missions International, we have supplied products to the organization at discounted prices for years,” said Joe Silverberg, director, Global Provantage Sales. “We understand the fundamental importance of potable water, and I’m glad we were able to continue providing support, especially during this devastating disaster.”