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Achieving Net Zero – How to Initiate Realistic and Lasting Supply Chain Sustainability Efforts in Pharma

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are rightly taking steps to improve their sustainability – but equally important is that the pharmaceutical supply chain matches these efforts. Richard Peck, Global Strategic Advisor of Tower Cold Chain explores how sustainability can be impacted through the choice of a temperature-controlled container.

Against the backdrop of a looming climate emergency, there has never been a such commitment to finding more sustainable ways of doing business. Inevitably, the pharmaceutical industry – which spans the entire globe and has a profound impact on our daily lives – is at the vanguard of change.

A 2019 study revealed that the pharmaceutical industry emits more greenhouse gases than the automotive sector. So it’s hardly surprising that, according to a survey conducted in 2021 by GlobalData, the environment is the clear priority when it comes to ESG (environmental, social and governance) planning.

Happily, this awareness is being translated into tangible actions; the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers have embarked on ambitious plans to become more sustainable. For example, Pfizer has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 and announced a raft of measures to achieve this, from reducing direct emissions to purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable sources.

Novartis is taking similar steps but interestingly has separated its deadlines for carbon neutrality – 2025 across its own operations, but 2030 throughout its value chain.

That’s a practical assessment of the complexities of achieving real and measurable change. A huge number of steps, involving dozens of different companies, are required to ensure pharmaceuticals reach patients safely and on time. Each of these processes and partners must be carefully considered to find the optimum balance between operational efficiency, product protection and sustainability

How can We Optimise TemperatureControlled Containers for Sustainability?

This article focuses on one aspect of the pharmaceutical supply chain: the temperature-controlled containers that are vital for shipping drug consignments around the world.

 Fundamentally, every solution available on the market does the same thing. The use of temperature-controlled containers ensures palletised delivery of pharmaceutical shipments, in a way that keeps the product safe from physical damage and temperature excursions.

Yet there are important distinctions between suppliers, and various choices that a pharmaceutical manufacturer must make – in terms of the technology, materials, and design of any given container.

Each option will have its benefits and drawbacks, but what happens if we judge containers solely through the prism of sustainability? Where can the greatest reductions in environmental impact be made, without – of course – compromising on the critical function of the container?