Nonin Sr. Director of R&D Leads a Company-Wide Sustainability Push

February 28, 2024

Sustainability often comes second to profitability in the business world. At Nonin, we are investing in ways to positively impact both with the help of Senior Director of Research and Development Scott Firman.

Nonin’s mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives. In support of our mission, we are also dedicated to advancing our sustainable practices in order to enhance the well-being of both present-day individuals and future generations on a global scale. Whenever possible, Nonin tries to minimize waste while ensuring we continue to meet our customers’ needs.

As part of this mission, Nonin has placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of sustainability in both our business model and employee culture. This initiative has been spearheaded by Scott, and so far, has included forming an employee resource group dedicated to sustainability, improving our packaging, modifying our office recycling policies, and more.

Finding opportunities to increase sustainability at an organization is always difficult, and it can be particularly challenging for companies working in the medical device industry. Products, packaging, and instructions are heavily regulated, requiring creative thinking to stay within the regulations while making positive changes where possible.

“When thinking about sustainability in the medical device industry, packaging stands out as an area where we can create positive impact without as many regulation hurdles,” said Scott.

This thinking is what lead to the recent packaging update Nonin implemented for its Onyx® Vantage 9590 fingertip pulse oximeter. This packaging redesign project, which reduced total packaging by 25%, eliminated all plastics, and is comprised of 100% recyclable cardboard, was completed in the second half of 2022. Through innovative designs and intentional modifications, the new packaging not only reduced Nonin’s landfill impact, but it provided cost savings by lowering shipping expenses and shrinking warehouse storage needs. These updates benefit both Nonin and our customers and hospitals.

Scott remembers his initial interest in sustainability came from a high school project where he and a team of classmates built a high-mileage vehicle that managed to perform at 78 miles per gallon.

Scott Firman (second from the left) and his high school classmates with their high mileage vehicle. Faces blurred for privacy.

“I’ve been interested in sustainability since I was a teenager,” Scott said. “For many years, I thought that my personal interest in sustainability would remain separate from my professional work. But at Nonin I’ve been able to merge the two, finding ways to accomplish changes that are better for both the business and the environment.”

Scott had the chance to discuss sustainability in medical devices while serving on the Building Sustainability into Your Medical Device panel during the 2023 Advanced Manufacturing (MD&M) Conference in Minneapolis.

“It’s always interesting to discuss topics like this with people from across the industry,” Scott said. “Many of us are facing similar challenges as the demand for disposable products increases to help with both sanitary needs and workflow. How can we balance this with finding ways to make a positive environmental change? Often, the answer can be found by improving packaging or developing more hybrid products that offer some reusability without negatively impacting workflow.”

In addition to Nonin’s plans to continue packaging updates, we also offer a hybrid pulse oximetry sensor system. The Nonin 8000J sensor features a reusable sensor, made of durable silicone, that is secured with a disposable FlexiWrap adhesive. This product brings together disposable supplies with a high-quality sustainable medical device, finding a path that meets patient and provider needs while maintaining a commitment to reduce medical waste.

As awareness around environmental conservation has grown, Nonin employees have also acknowledged the role they play both professionally and personally. Nonin’s Green Team is an Employee Resource Group (ERG) sponsored by Scott that focuses on protecting our planet. This cross-departmental group brainstorms and carries out key changes to advance our environmentally friendly goals. Green Team members have advocated for office space consolidation, reduced the company’s overall electrical and natural gas consumption, and improved our waste management practices.

Garrett Hiljus, Nonin’s Sr. Digital Marketing Specialist, joined the Green Team when he started with Nonin in 2019. As a long-term vegan, prioritizing more climate-friendly actions was not new to Garrett; however, bringing together like-minded coworkers throughout Nonin helped him build an internal network that shared in his commitment.

“I don’t think that being more environmentally conscious always needs to come with some big, radical change,” Garrett said. “There’s so much value in people making small, simple, high-impact adjustments to their daily lives.”

The Green Team has highlighted these as small steps employees can take to make a difference:

  • Shutting down their computer at the end of the day and turning off lights when they leave a room.
  • Eliminating extra fridges and freezers at home or in an office.
  • Moving to low-energy light bulbs.
  • Reducing (or better yet, eliminating!) single-use plastics.
  • Composting.
  • Creating eco-friendly green spaces where they live and work.

Nonin is proud to be an organization focused on making decisions today that have a positive impact for future generations. Those decisions go well beyond Nonin’s cutting-edge medical device innovations. Today and every day, we challenge other organizations throughout the world to join us on this mission to preserve our planet!

Learn more about Nonin’s commitment to sustainable practices by visiting our Sustainability page:

Visit Nonin’s Sustainability Page