In this interview, David Seitz, Director, Global Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability, Amgen talks about taking inspiration from the air regulations and vehicle emissions improvements that saw the end to the LA ‘smog days’ of his childhood. How is Amgen making a difference to the current climate crisis, and does working with BioPhorum help in this process?
Sustainability for any organization is now mission-critical, moving from future-based commitments to practical action. How is your organization connecting corporate strategy with operational execution?
We’ve been successfully executing formal sustainability plans since 2008. Our latest plan includes achieving Scope 1 & 2 carbon neutrality, reducing water by 40% and waste by 75% against our 2019 baseline. To achieve these 2027 goals, Amgen is focusing on the use of innovative approaches and processes, efficiency improvements, and increased sourcing of renewable energy.
In 2021, we included environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance in our company goals under our annual executive compensation plan.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a sustainability leader?
There has been a significant increase in external and executive interest in ESG and ES. I must learn all the emerging information, determine the relevance to Amgen and then educate internally and externally. I work closely with our corporate ESG team to ensure we are involved with the appropriate industry groups, like BioPhorum, so that we stay focused and help to drive change.
Also, there are many people who are passionate about sustainability in our organization. I must balance my time between ensuring our critical sustainability efforts stay on track with coaching local resources and nurturing their enthusiasm.
What and/or who inspires you? Why?
When I was a child in LA, we had smog days where we couldn’t go outside to play. With the air regulations and vehicle emissions improvements, we don’t have this anymore. This is making a huge difference with the current and future generations.
What inspires me is that we’re making a difference at Amgen. I see the impact that climate change has caused in my lifetime, and it can feel overwhelming. Enabling projects that reduce water in our California locations for example, where water is scarce, or that convert our sales fleet to electric vehicles helps me sleep better at night.
Who are your key stakeholders and how do you keep them engaged?
We have a robust governance process that extends from the working teams up to the CEO staff and Board of Directors. We have a wide range of external disclosures—including our ESG report—to communicate frequently and transparently on our ESG performance.
If you could make one change that would make the greatest contribution to the development of a sustainable biologics industry, what would it be?
I see the work that the biologics industry does in treating serious illnesses as very intertwined with sustainability. Access to clean water, clean air and life-saving medicines are foundational to a person’s health. This is one of the reasons that we changed one of our ESG pillars from “Environmental Sustainability” to “Healthy Planet.” I would like others to make that same connection.
What do you hope to achieve working with BioPhorum Sustainability?
I look forward to collaborating with my peers in the biotech industry, sharing and standardizing best practices and educating other companies about adopting sustainability goals. While our 2027 aspirations do not incorporate Scope 3 emissions, we are evaluating the carbon impact from our value chain—including suppliers, contract manufacturers, and distributors—to help identify reduction opportunities as we continue to pursue a responsible sourcing strategy. BioPhorum will be an excellent partner as we embrace this challenge across our industry.