New carbon footprint tool launched for pharmaceuticals

The ABPI, in association with the Carbon Trust, has today launched a spread sheet based tool to enable UK companies to estimate the carbon footprint of tablet medicines in blister packs.

The tool, a first of its kind for the pharmaceutical sector, was developed in collaboration with the Carbon Trust and funded by the ABPI, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen (J&J), Eli Lilly, and Pfizer. This tool will help companies estimate the carbon footprint of tablet medicines in blister packs in a way that is relatively quick and easy. It is a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to help reduce its impact on the environment through sustainable practices including management of carbon footprints.

A range of data has been incorporated into the model which covers carbon emissions for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), transport and distribution, formulation and packaging, retail and use phase and finally the disposal of the packaging.

It is intended to give an indicative view of the carbon impact of a particular product and allow screening of large product portfolios to identify hotspots. Companies can then decide where to prioritise resource and investment in addressing the key environmental impacts by gathering more accurate, company-specific data to improve the output estimates.

Commenting on the launch, ABPI Chief Executive Stephen Whitehead said: “The development of this tool forms part of the ABPI’s commitment to help its members to identify carbon hot-spots for products and areas for potential carbon footprint reduction. These may include raw materials manufacture, selection of materials and transport.”

Sonia Roschnik, Head of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit (SDU), said: “The SDU is delighted to support the launch of this tool. It adds real value to the body of evidence emerging around the carbon footprinting of pharmaceutical products which account for approximately 20% of the NHS carbon footprint. This tool should be useful to manufacturers, commissioners and providers to start highlighting carbon hotspots and to target work to reduce emissions further.”

Hugh Jones, Managing Director, Business Advice at the Carbon Trust, said: “There is an increasing awareness among pharmaceutical companies that emissions outside their direct control can represent opportunities to improve cost efficiencies and reduce emissions. Mounting pressure to demonstrate environment impacts of products to customers is also a key driver for action across the sector. The launch of the foot printing tool is a really positive step towards helping these companies to understand the embodied carbon of different drugs and shows what can be achieved through sector-wide collaboration.”

The model, developed by the Carbon Trust, takes the full lifecycle of tablet medicines blister packs in to account. The tool is available now for free to all members and non-members of the ABPI.

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