When it comes to Abbott Laboratories and the environment, the pharmaceutical company has developed a comprehensive plan for reducing its carbon footprint.

In 2009, the company established a series of targets to minimize its environmental impact.

Among those goals, Abbott Labs has said that by 2015 it expects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent, reduce water intake by 50 percent, reduce its total waste by 50 percent and establish at least five zero waste to landfill plants.

Abbott Labs succeeded in reducing its carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency, switching to low-carbon fuels and using more renewable energy.

As an example, Abbott Labs can point to its manufacturing plant in Goa, India where the environmental and engineering teams in 2009 upgraded several pieces of equipment, including motors, fans, compressors and lighting. That year, the plant reduced its electricity consumption by 3.4 percent even though the plant manufactured 16 percent more product. Abbott Labs noted that the reduction in electricity use was equivalent to removing 700,000 pounds of carbon emissions.

Taking a wider perspective, Abbott Labs is trying to measure the amount of carbon generated by the parts of its business that could be considered third-party or indirect emissions. For example, Abbott Labs began examining the carbon emissions associated with waste went to landfills by its manufacturing plants. The company determined that those emissions equaled approximately 8 percent of its global direct and indirect gas emissions. In addition, the company measured carbon emissions associated with employee travel and determined that it was responsible for about four percent of the company’s emissions. Lastly, Abbott Labs also measured the carbon emissions associated with the hundreds of offices and warehouses the company leases around the world and determined that those structures accounted for roughly 3 percent of its global gas emissions.

The company has said that it hopes to measure those indirect emissions and put together a plan to decrease them over time.

Another major goal of the company is to create a carbon-neutral fleet of vehicles.

Abbott Labs said it defines carbon neutral status as being a state where the fleet’s carbon emissions are reduced through vehicle selection and policy changes as well as purchasing carbon offsets for the remaining greenhouse gases.

The company replaces almost one-third of its vehicles each year and managers have been encouraged to select the most fuel efficient vehicles to meet their business goals. Between model years 2008 and 2009, sedans and hybrids increased from 20 percent of total orders to 47 percent of total orders.

For more on Abbott Laboratories and the environment, check out the environmental section of the company’s website.