Sustainable Pharmaceutical Development: Reducing Environmental Impact

Ways to achieve sustainable pharmaceutical development 

Sustainable pharmaceutical development has been a hot topic for the past decade. An industry that prides itself on the salvation of human life can no longer turn a blind eye to the destruction of the environment. More and more efforts are being made by a diverse set of companies to curb their environmental impact.

This is why we have decided to write this blog article. In it, we will explore innovative ways in which your own company can contribute to the growing efforts at achieving sustainable production goals within the pharmaceutical industry. Not only do these goals also indirectly contribute to the well-being of humanity, but they also have the potential to improve your company’s standing on the global pharma scene.

Without further ado, let us begin!

1. Do not put sustainability over functionality 

Given the title of this article, this might seem like an odd choice for a first subheading. Nevertheless, it is very important for companies looking to make their business practices more sustainable to not sacrifice too much functionality. This is especially important for the biopharma sectors, where sacrificing quality might mean putting human life at risk.

Medicines need to have a certain level of packaging quality to make sure they can safely travel along the supply chain, especially those that require more specific storage conditions.

Furthermore, opting for a strategy that ends up demanding too much of your profits, efficiency, and product robustness will simply have the countereffect of making you drop the entire endeavour in frustration, the same way someone might quickly tire of a diet that is too strict.


2. Try to reduce packaging waste as much as possible

Waste reduction is one of the best ways to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, so there is little surprise that it is useful for sustainable pharmaceutical development. In order to reduce waste, methods must be put in place that allow packaging to be recycled or reused while also using as little material as possible for packaging.

The optimization of packaging design is one method for reducing waste. Companies can produce packaging that provides acceptable product protection while utilizing fewer materials. This minimalist strategy might involve shrinking the size, getting rid of extra parts, or using thinner materials.

Implementing packaging systems that are returnable and refillable is another successful strategy. A kind of circular economy is promoted by these systems, which let customers return used packaging to the business for recycling or refilling. Companies might provide incentives or discounts to entice customers to return empty containers. After that, the containers are sanitized and put to good use, thus minimizing waste.


3. Implement more biodegradable materials 

Embracing biodegradable materials in your production of medicines is great for promoting sustainable pharmaceutical development. These materials, which are frequently made of plant-based resources, are much less harmful to the environment than conventional plastic or metal-based packaging. Since they are made to organically degrade over time, they leave no toxic leftovers and greatly reduce waste buildup.

Plant-based polymers, such as Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), as well as molded pulp, a substance made from recycled paper and cardboard, are biodegradable materials that are frequently used in pharmaceutical packaging. Given its adaptability and biocompatibility, PLA made from maize starch, sugarcane, or cassava is particularly promising. PHA, a substance made by bacteria, is both biodegradable and biocompatible, which opens up intriguing possibilities. However, the widespread use of such biodegradable materials comes with its own set of difficulties.

Pharmaceutical products need to be effectively shielded against contamination, moisture, and damage, therefore companies need to make sure these new materials can do that. In addition, the materials must adhere to the customarily strict regulatory standards for effectiveness and safety.

4. Invest in recycling 

It is no secret that recycling is one of the most effective measures in taking care of the ecosystem. Some pharmaceutical businesses have made a substantial commitment to lessen their environmental impact by investing in recycling systems. Recycling initiatives aim to turn waste products into usable resources, cutting down on the need for fresh raw materials and lowering overall waste, which also refers back to our second piece of advice.

Depending on the unique needs and resources of each business, a recycling program’s form may change. For instance, a business may create internal recycling programs for manufacturing, office, and packaging trash within its premises. Businesses may make sure that recyclable items are properly disposed of and transferred to recycling facilities by segregating waste and providing recycling bins.

Investing in recycling initiatives can also benefit pharmaceutical businesses financially. By utilizing recycled materials instead of fresh raw materials, it is possible to produce new packaging at a lower cost. Companies that invest in recycling initiatives can also strengthen their reputation as ethical and sustainable businesses, attracting investors and clients who care about the environment.

5. Optimize your serialization systems

We talk a lot about serialization, but did you know that properly serializing your production goes a long way towards fostering sustainable pharmaceutical development? Despite not being strictly designed for these purposes, serialization improves supply chain visibility and hence improves the overall control and sustainability of a product.

Serialization gives the manufacturer considerably better knowledge of a product’s location and ultimate distribution, which is where sustainability enters the picture. This enables them to produce the right amount of products, which reduces over-production and, as a result, factors like material and energy usage as well as distribution costs also go down.

An efficient serialization system not only helps you comply with pharmaceutical regulations and combat counterfeit drugs but coincidentally turns out to be a great tool for preserving the planet, too!


The importance of learning from all sources 

When it comes to making your production, transport, and storage practices more environmentally, friendly, it is important to take in knowledge from many sources. Even if this article has helped you realize what measures you specifically wish to take towards more sustainable pharmaceutical development in the context of your own business, you might still need some help implementing those solutions.

At Nubinno, we specialize in helping pharmaceutical businesses all over the world. Whether it is the logistics of switching materials or improving your serialization practices, we can help you achieve your sustainability goals in direct as well as indirect ways. Read some of our other articles for tips on other topics, too!

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