Sustainability Initiatives at GlaxoSmithKline

The Fifth Annual Global Pharma Manufacturing Summit, organized by WTG, was held in Boson this past June. James Hagan, Vice President of Sustainability and Environment at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) gave a presentation on “Strategies for Environmentally Sustainable Manufacturing.” My colleague Janice Abel attended the presentation and interviewed Mr. Hagan afterwards, which was the basis for a report she wrote on GSK’s holistic, multipronged approach to sustainability (the report is available to ARC clients only). Some of the practical tools GSK has developed to help it with its sustainability initiatives are particularly interesting.

The potential benefits – in terms of eliminating waste, reducing raw material consumption, lowering operational costs, and reducing safety risks – are far greater if sustainability is tackled during the product development stage. Here’s an excerpt from Janice’s report:

Mr. Hagan discussed how GSK worked with the chemists in development, challenging them to think differently and more environmentally. As a result, the company was able to design toolkits that offered guidance. These include:

Green Chemistry Guide – offers guidance to GlaxoSmithKline scientists and engineers on how to apply green chemistry concepts to enable more efficient use of resources; reduce environment, health, and safety impacts; and minimize costs.

Solvent Selection Guide – contains information on a wide range of solvents used within GlaxoSmithKline operations, identifying solvents that should be avoided. 

Base Material Selection Guide – ranks 42 chemical bases according to their environmental waste profiles, environmental impacts, safety profiles, and health impacts. It also provides detailed information on each base.

Green Packaging Guide – provides a packaging assessment tool, guidance, and a business process for designing and selecting environmentally-responsible packaging for the pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare businesses. The GSK green packaging system uses a simple color-coded report that clearly shows if the packaging associated with a product is better or worse than the appropriate benchmark.

GSK has had a continuous focus on sustainability since the early 80s, long before sustainability became cool, and the company has been able to save money and become “greener” in the process.

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