Big Pharma: the focus on sustainability in the supply chain


The sharpened focus on sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry is a sign of the times. As we emerge from the pandemic, the industry’s importance to the collective health and global economy is more prominent than ever, and the attention on sustainability should be intertwined with profit and cost targets. The pharmaceutical industry has trailed other sectors when it comes to sustainability, with immense potential to improve in the future.

The industry suffers from high energy and water consumption, as well as a sprawling research and development (R&D) and global factory footprint which unfortunately means that it is heavily polluting – carbon emissions are currently 55% higher than the automotive industry (even though it is 28% smaller in size). The shift to greener, renewable energy resources needs to take place and some major pharmaceutical companies (J&J, MSD, Sanofi, Pfizer, GSK to name a few) have agreed to renewable energy targets in the next decade. Strict quality control and heavy regulation in the supply chain is necessary but the industry lacks clear ESG (environment social governance) regulation.

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