Ron Meissen (’07), Baxter

Ron Meissen enrolled in the Land Resources PhD program in 2000 and quickly began his association with the EAP program. Ron was not a traditional student, as he maintained a full-time position on the management team of Baxter International Inc. (Baxter), and commuted from the north side of Chicago for more than six years to complete his doctorate. Ron had already earned an MBA, an MS in engineering from the University of Illinois, and had an undergraduate engineering degree from UW-Platteville.

Ron completed his PhD in 2007 and added an EAP minor to that degree. He recently retired as the senior director of sustainability within Baxter’s corporate Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability group. In this role he was involved with a number of global corporate sustainability programs including Baxter’s CEO-sponsored executive-level Sustainability Steering Committee. This senior management group was formed in 2006 to accelerate the integration of sustainability practices throughout the organization to help address global sustainability issues and enhance long-term business value. Ron was part of a team developing Baxter’s 2020 sustainability strategy, vision and goals.

Ron supported Baxter’s global regions and business functions with their specific sustainability initiatives, such as corporate communications, purchasing and supplier management, and facilities engineering services. He is a champion for increased use of renewable energy, manages company greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies and is involved in the development of Baxter’s annual Sustainability Report. He also assists many industry and stakeholder groups and universities with their sustainability programs.

Baxter develops, manufactures and markets products for people with hemophilia, immune disorders, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma, and other chronic and acute medical conditions. Baxter applies a combination of expertise in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to create products that advance patient care worldwide. Baxter’s 2014 sales were $16.7 billion.

“We have a strong centralized energy management program (four engineers), which manages and tracks global energy usage ($211 million in 2013), performs energy reviews, and identifies energy conservation projects at facilities around the world. They have a Lean Energy Program comprised of four progressive levels of performance, each with 25 or so best practice criteria, Ron explains. “We have about 70 manufacturing plants and plant performance is tracked quarterly.” In 2013 Baxter saved $41 million in energy costs due to energy conservation efforts implemented from 2005 through 2013, in addition to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Ron managed all of Baxter’s GHG emissions tracking and reduction activities. Between 2005 to 2013, Baxter’s global sales increased 50 percent. For this same period, Baxter reduced its net GHG emissions from operations 10 percent on an absolute basis. “For many years I have calculated and presented Baxter’s estimated Scope 3 GHG emissions (such as GHG emissions related to Baxter’s supply chain, employee commuting, and employee business travel). There are 15 Scope 3 categories,” he says. In 2013, the UK-based Environmental Investment Organization recognized Baxter with a Scope 3 Disclosure Leader Award. Baxter was ranked second among all companies globally for reporting 12 of 15 Scope 3 GHG emission categories.

In addition to solar projects and purchasing electricity generated from 100 percent certified renewable energy, Baxter now has boilers using biomass at four locations (two in India, one in the U.S. and one in Italy). “These have great paybacks and great reductions in GHG emissions,” Ron says. Baxter also tracks and reports the type of renewable and non-renewable energy sources used to generate the electricity purchased by the company globally (in approximately 50 countries). I am not aware of any other company this type of information.”

During the 2014 fall semester, Ron acted as one of the liaison members from Baxter assisting a group of EAP students completing their Capstone Seminar. The EAP student group worked on energy efficiency and carbon reduction strategies for the company, creating a detailed report that serves as a methodological guide of energy efficiency and carbon reduction approaches for the Baxter Renal Therapy Services group.