Why Investors Should Probe Corporations’ Hyperlocal Manufacturing Efforts

Why Investors Should Probe Corporations’ Hyperlocal Manufacturing Efforts

Investors are increasingly concerned about how war in the Middle East could affect supply chains — and with good reason. At Davos, business leaders warned that attacks by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militants, including against U.S. ships, “could affect supply chains for months and lead to a shortage of tankers needed to transport fuel,” Reuters reports.

It’s not only disruptions stemming from wars that corporations have to worry about. Traffic through the Panama Canal has been sliced due to drought. And perennial problems including labor shortages, tensions with China and cyber vulnerability continue to take a toll as well.

Businesses have been working to recoup losses from supply chain woes they suffered throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which lowered stock values. The latest developments serve as a strong reminder that sourcing goods from across the world brings risks to companies and investors.

Meanwhile, domestic shipping is becoming more expensive as well. Package delivery giants have hiked prices by as much as 8% and are increasing surcharges, Supply Chain Dive reports.

Businesses could spare themselves, their customers and their shareholders many of these costs by stepping up their investments into a solution that often gets far too little attention: hyperlocal manufacturing.

Hyperlocal manufacturing allows businesses to have greater direct control than ever over their supply chains by sourcing and manufacturing parts and goods created nearby, with no need for delivery companies to travel long distances. It’s become more of a viable solution as additive manufacturing makes more types of products available for 3D printing. But it’s also viable as a solution for traditional manufacturing.

The more they look for manufacturing close to home, the more businesses become both financially and environmentally sustainable, attracting investors across the board — including those who want to support companies that demonstrate environmental stewardship.

A growing number of shareholders are interested in climate-focused investing. They want to see businesses acknowledge and reduce their carbon footprints. This includes the environmental impact of shipping. “Billions of tons of cargo are transported around the world each year by trucks, planes, ships, and trains. This transportation makes up 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions,” MIT reports.

Sometimes, hyperlocal manufacturing can offer yet another benefit. It can help companies reduce the costs and carbon footprint of their recycling programs.

Ironically, many corporations add emissions to the atmosphere by having their recyclables shipped long distances. Recycling trucks are among heavy-duty vehicles, which have disproportionately high emissions, Waste Dive reports. Regulators are looking to “rein in emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.”

If companies can find ways to instead have recyclable materials processed locally and used to manufacture products they need, they’ll maximize the benefits and the savings for shareholders.

I discovered this after I was brought in as CEO of GreenLabs Recycling in Concord, Mass. We originally focused on working with local life sciences companies to recycle plastic parts that were ending up in landfills or incinerated. Traditional waste haulers don’t recycle plastic that looks like a lab product, fearing contamination. They either reject it outright or trash it when it arrives at their facilities. Some companies ship their plastic long distances — even all the way across the country — to recycling facilities.

After recycling the plastics we collected, we used the resins to manufacture products for general use. Then MIT, one of our life sciences clients, asked me, “Why don’t you manufacture a lab product to sell back to us, creating a circular economy?” So we created a benchtop hazardous waste bin.

When I tell investors about this, their eyes often light up. As I know well from having co-founded Greentown Labs, the largest climate tech incubator in North America, investors can be a powerful driving force in helping companies discover solutions for cost savings and environmental improvements.

No one is better equipped than shareholders to help businesses discover hyperlocal manufacturing opportunities. In earnings calls and other interactions, ask executives about their hyperlocal strategies in all the areas they serve. Ask whether they’ve done deep-dive analyses of their manufacturing needs to determine what could be sourced close to their facilities. Find out whether their recycling company can coordinate with local injection molders to create a hyperlocal recycling and manufacturing ecosystem.

The companies that show knowledge and leadership in this arena will be strengthening their operations and protecting their investors through challenges ahead — involving both supply chains and environmental efforts — in the years to come.

Sam White is CEO of GreenLabs Recycling, which collects and recycles non-hazardous plastic from research facilities in Greater Boston, providing recycling solutions to help make science sustainable. He can be reached at [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Commentary: Why Boston’s life sciences sector should fuel a new climatetech niche

Commentary: Why Boston’s life sciences sector should fuel a new climatetech niche

Gov. Maura Healey was right when she called Massachusetts “the global epicenter” of life sciences last spring. The sector had been booming for years. And although it has seen layoffs recently, “Most industry watchers have cautious optimism for 2024,” the Business Journal reported recently.

Being a leader in the space offers tremendous advantages and economic opportunities to our region. But it also comes with a responsibility. In delivering life-saving solutions, the life sciences industry takes an environmental toll — one far worse than many people realize.

“For most industrialized nations, healthcare systems account for nearly 10 percent of national greenhouse-gas emissions, a higher proportion than either the aviation or shipping industries,” McKinsey reports. And within healthcare, life sciences companies are especially damaging, with emissions two to three times higher than “healthcare delivery organizations” such as hospitals and medical centers, the report says.

The global life sciences industry alone is expected to double in size by 2030. Its carbon footprint could easily double with it, unless major action is taken right away. As the industry’s “epicenter,” the Boston metro area should lead the way in bringing sustainability to life sciences.

Fortunately, this spells economic opportunity, including for small businesses. Rather than trying to make all the necessary changes in-house, biotech and biopharma giants have good reason to look for startups with whom they can contract to help them transform their operations and reduce emissions.

Having co-founded Greentown Labs here in Boston more than a decade ago and watched it grow into the largest climatetech incubator in North America, I’ve seen how powerful partnerships between large companies and climate-focused startups can be. In fact, corporations are some of the most important and impactful clients for climatetech startups. In the coming years, I expect more niche climatetech startups to take root, including those specifically focused on solutions for life sciences.

I joined this space last year, having been hired as CEO of GreenLabs Recycling, which collects and recycles certain plastics from laboratories (including pipette tip boxes and media bottles) that have mostly been sent to landfills, incinerated, or sent across the country for recycling, adding to emissions from shipping. Our entire recycling system is local, and includes using the plastic to manufacture a lab product. Another local example is MacroCycle Technologies, which turns media bottles into virgin-grade mPET resins.

There are infinite possibilities for ways to make a dent in the life sciences sector’s environmental impact. In fact, McKinsey estimates that about 60% of emissions for pharma companies “can be abated at near-zero cost by 2040.”

Developing climatetech solutions for life sciences can be especially challenging. For example, the unique dangers and potential toxicity of chemicals used in labs require any company dealing with these materials to take all sorts of special precautions. There are also numerous important regulations involving any business that serves this sector. So these startups have good reason to snatch up talent with experience working for life sciences companies.

As leaders work to build the future of Boston’s life sciences sector, they should keep this kind of innovation front of mind. The more the region fuels climatetech for “big pharma,” the stronger our ecosystem will be — both financially and environmentally.

Sam White is CEO of GreenLabs Recycling in Concord.

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #12

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #12

I recently enjoyed touring the Bioversity training center in Dorchester and saw the first Biotech Career Foundations course in action.

I left feeling extremely impressed and proud of what has been achieved in this cutting-edge facility, the industry-informed curriculum by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the amazing cohort of learners enrolled. It’s hard to argue that this could improve the diversity of talent entering our industry – 94% of the Bioversity learners “only” have a high school degree or some college, 100% identify as African American or Hispanic, and 80% are from Boston neighborhoods like Dorchester. We want our industry to reflect the broader population better. This feels like another step toward that.

Greenlabs recycling boxes

However, the potential access Bioversity and other workforce development programs are creating for “non-traditional” talent to enter the workforce must be paired with an equally deliberate effort to proactively support each individual to make them want to stay in the workforce. Employers will need to ensure their onboarding and retention strategies effectively instill a true sense of belonging for all, especially for those who have been traditionally underrepresented in our industry locally. It’s worth pointing out that our 2023 DEI report found that only 14% of the biopharma workforce identifies as BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), with this number dropping to just 6% when considering the percentage of people of color at the executive level.

Some approaches employers have chosen to implement:

  • Assigning a mentor or “buddy” from outside the new employee’s business unit to help welcome them into the company and answer questions in a safe space
  • Providing flexibility and the time and opportunity for employees to become accustomed to any unfamiliar professional or cultural expectations
  • Helping staff and managers understand unconscious bias principles, allowing employees to be viewed holistically and not just through one lens. e.g. race
  • Creating the conditions in which the employee actively wants to showcase their presence in the company, not using them as examples in marketing materials
  • Supplying compensation linked to their responsibilities, not their newness to the industry
  • Focusing on their talent, not their difference

Initiatives and institutions working to increase diversity face increased scrutiny alongside broader attacks on DEI. Within this context, I was recently asked, “Do you think the graduates of programs like Bioversity are going to feel wanted in your industry and Corporate America more broadly?” We have the opportunity to ensure the answer is yes.

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #11

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #11

I recently enjoyed touring the Bioversity training center in Dorchester and saw the first Biotech Career Foundations course in action.

I left feeling extremely impressed and proud of what has been achieved in this cutting-edge facility, the industry-informed curriculum by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the amazing cohort of learners enrolled. It’s hard to argue that this could improve the diversity of talent entering our industry – 94% of the Bioversity learners “only” have a high school degree or some college, 100% identify as African American or Hispanic, and 80% are from Boston neighborhoods like Dorchester. We want our industry to reflect the broader population better. This feels like another step toward that.

Greenlabs recycling boxes

However, the potential access Bioversity and other workforce development programs are creating for “non-traditional” talent to enter the workforce must be paired with an equally deliberate effort to proactively support each individual to make them want to stay in the workforce. Employers will need to ensure their onboarding and retention strategies effectively instill a true sense of belonging for all, especially for those who have been traditionally underrepresented in our industry locally. It’s worth pointing out that our 2023 DEI report found that only 14% of the biopharma workforce identifies as BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), with this number dropping to just 6% when considering the percentage of people of color at the executive level.

Some approaches employers have chosen to implement:

  • Assigning a mentor or “buddy” from outside the new employee’s business unit to help welcome them into the company and answer questions in a safe space
  • Providing flexibility and the time and opportunity for employees to become accustomed to any unfamiliar professional or cultural expectations
  • Helping staff and managers understand unconscious bias principles, allowing employees to be viewed holistically and not just through one lens. e.g. race
  • Creating the conditions in which the employee actively wants to showcase their presence in the company, not using them as examples in marketing materials
  • Supplying compensation linked to their responsibilities, not their newness to the industry
  • Focusing on their talent, not their difference

Initiatives and institutions working to increase diversity face increased scrutiny alongside broader attacks on DEI. Within this context, I was recently asked, “Do you think the graduates of programs like Bioversity are going to feel wanted in your industry and Corporate America more broadly?” We have the opportunity to ensure the answer is yes.

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #10

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #10

I recently enjoyed touring the Bioversity training center in Dorchester and saw the first Biotech Career Foundations course in action.

I left feeling extremely impressed and proud of what has been achieved in this cutting-edge facility, the industry-informed curriculum by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the amazing cohort of learners enrolled. It’s hard to argue that this could improve the diversity of talent entering our industry – 94% of the Bioversity learners “only” have a high school degree or some college, 100% identify as African American or Hispanic, and 80% are from Boston neighborhoods like Dorchester. We want our industry to reflect the broader population better. This feels like another step toward that.

Greenlabs recycling boxes

However, the potential access Bioversity and other workforce development programs are creating for “non-traditional” talent to enter the workforce must be paired with an equally deliberate effort to proactively support each individual to make them want to stay in the workforce. Employers will need to ensure their onboarding and retention strategies effectively instill a true sense of belonging for all, especially for those who have been traditionally underrepresented in our industry locally. It’s worth pointing out that our 2023 DEI report found that only 14% of the biopharma workforce identifies as BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), with this number dropping to just 6% when considering the percentage of people of color at the executive level.

Some approaches employers have chosen to implement:

  • Assigning a mentor or “buddy” from outside the new employee’s business unit to help welcome them into the company and answer questions in a safe space
  • Providing flexibility and the time and opportunity for employees to become accustomed to any unfamiliar professional or cultural expectations
  • Helping staff and managers understand unconscious bias principles, allowing employees to be viewed holistically and not just through one lens. e.g. race
  • Creating the conditions in which the employee actively wants to showcase their presence in the company, not using them as examples in marketing materials
  • Supplying compensation linked to their responsibilities, not their newness to the industry
  • Focusing on their talent, not their difference

Initiatives and institutions working to increase diversity face increased scrutiny alongside broader attacks on DEI. Within this context, I was recently asked, “Do you think the graduates of programs like Bioversity are going to feel wanted in your industry and Corporate America more broadly?” We have the opportunity to ensure the answer is yes.

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #9

Demo Post for Thought Leadership & In the News #9

I recently enjoyed touring the Bioversity training center in Dorchester and saw the first Biotech Career Foundations course in action.

I left feeling extremely impressed and proud of what has been achieved in this cutting-edge facility, the industry-informed curriculum by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the amazing cohort of learners enrolled. It’s hard to argue that this could improve the diversity of talent entering our industry – 94% of the Bioversity learners “only” have a high school degree or some college, 100% identify as African American or Hispanic, and 80% are from Boston neighborhoods like Dorchester. We want our industry to reflect the broader population better. This feels like another step toward that.

Greenlabs recycling boxes

However, the potential access Bioversity and other workforce development programs are creating for “non-traditional” talent to enter the workforce must be paired with an equally deliberate effort to proactively support each individual to make them want to stay in the workforce. Employers will need to ensure their onboarding and retention strategies effectively instill a true sense of belonging for all, especially for those who have been traditionally underrepresented in our industry locally. It’s worth pointing out that our 2023 DEI report found that only 14% of the biopharma workforce identifies as BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), with this number dropping to just 6% when considering the percentage of people of color at the executive level.

Some approaches employers have chosen to implement:

  • Assigning a mentor or “buddy” from outside the new employee’s business unit to help welcome them into the company and answer questions in a safe space
  • Providing flexibility and the time and opportunity for employees to become accustomed to any unfamiliar professional or cultural expectations
  • Helping staff and managers understand unconscious bias principles, allowing employees to be viewed holistically and not just through one lens. e.g. race
  • Creating the conditions in which the employee actively wants to showcase their presence in the company, not using them as examples in marketing materials
  • Supplying compensation linked to their responsibilities, not their newness to the industry
  • Focusing on their talent, not their difference

Initiatives and institutions working to increase diversity face increased scrutiny alongside broader attacks on DEI. Within this context, I was recently asked, “Do you think the graduates of programs like Bioversity are going to feel wanted in your industry and Corporate America more broadly?” We have the opportunity to ensure the answer is yes.