Sustainability Q&A with Caroline Calmels of Saint-Gobain

Sustainability Q&A with Caroline Calmels of Saint-Gobain

Sustainability goals are increasingly stretched, requiring an industry-wide collaborative response to deliver a tangible and measurable impact on the biopharmaceutical industry’s sustainable development goals and agenda. A critical deliverable has been the BioPhorum environmental sustainability roadmap. This outlines a series of high-impact opportunities for the sector to decarbonize and embed circularity across four domains: raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, and use and end of life. BioPhorum’s unique ability to build a strong coalition for change for the entire industry is now being applied to the greatest challenge of our generation.

We talked to Caroline Calmels, Sustainability Market Manager at Saint-Gobain Life Sciences, about her experience of working collaboratively with BioPhorum and the benefits this partnership brings to her and Saint-Gobain.

What challenges have you faced when making the shift to more sustainable practices?

  • One is to ensure that we engage with people and be clear that sustainable practices are a better way to work. And that sustainability isn’t only one person’s job – we must engage and get buy-in from all teams.
  • Another is that sustainable practices shouldn’t only be about the environment but other aspects like societal issues. This means sustainability isn’t just the responsibility of one job or department, such as the operation of supply chains, as it’s much wider than that. We see how wide the scope is in BioPhorum, with its many connected workstreams that cover multiple departments and topics.
  • Another challenge is knowing where to start when trying to be more sustainable is also critical. This isn’t always easy, so having proper data and a baseline against which you can measure your progress is important.

How do you take those insights back into Saint-Gobain?

The insights help us determine our sustainability priorities. Since the workstream was created, decarbonization and the circular economy have been two important trends we have used to align our internal action plan. As well as helping us understand our market better, the workstream and its insights are a way of understanding trends – not just on processes but on products, i.e., how they are handled during use if they have any sustainability benefits for our customers, are there any savings (water for example), what happens at the end of their life, etc. The discussions and information sharing are ways of collecting feedback that we can use internally.

How does that feedback loop improve your customers’ goals?

Some of our customers are also members of BioPhorum, so the feedback loop creates an additional link and opens another channel of discussion with our sustainability counterparts, which hasn’t always happened in the past.

There is also value for our customers because of our transparency as the roadmap shows the actions and priorities, we and other members are willing to tackle. This transparency demonstrates that we are putting resources and effort into being part of sustainability solutions. We need customer input so we can understand their sustainability goals and ensure we are all aligned.

How do you see the partnership evolving?

The roadmap released last year was version one and we said straight away that it needs to be challenged as things are moving fast and we want to stay up-to-date. Communication is key as we will get feedback to ensure the roadmap is adapted to market needs. There are also sub-workstreams that are working on subjects such as carbon footprints of products or feasibility studies of recycling. Saint-Gobain is participating in some of these workstreams, all of which need to face the challenges of making sure members speak the same language, use the same definitions, etc. This is crucial to a successful collaboration.

If you couldn’t be part of BioPhorum, what would you lose as an organization?

We would really miss how Saint-Gobain is seen as a credible partner to collaborate with because BioPhorum is proof that we are part of the value chain. Being part of an industry consensus instead of expressing our views as a single organization is a real strength. Without BioPhorum, it wouldn’t be as easy to work with regulatory bodies or other organizations and be influential in the sustainability space.

Who would you like to reach within Saint-Gobain with your sustainability message?

It depends on the topic. For example, if we are talking about packaging optimization through the value chain – such as the type of material, how it is shipped, or switching to more sustainable packaging – we will need to involve supply chain, logistics, operations, and marketing. At the same time, creating a sustainability culture needs involvement from all managers and human resource teams to ensure there is some training and awareness. We must also ensure sustainability is embedded in the innovation process and new product development. We should also consider how we are promoting what already exists in sustainability, supported by robust and tangible proof, thanks to marketing and communication expertise.

Caroline, what one message would you like to give the Saint-Gobain team?

I would say that we are still at the start of our sustainability journey. Part of this is to ensure we have a clear baseline from which we can measure everything, including how we manufacture our products, ship them, put products on the market, etc. This baseline should drive our priorities so we can target proper actions. Also, more and more people are concerned about sustainability, and we should leverage that interest and make it part of their job. That’s a critical way of moving toward more sustainable practices.


For original Case Study by BioPhorum visit