Environmental issues are dominating the UAE as they are across the world. While world leaders attempt to tackle climate change and carbon emissions, the task for the UAE is even greater. The region has been rated number one in the world for having the most significant ecological footprint by the World Wildlife Fund.
The WWF report identified critical environmental threats, including carbon footprints, air pollution and waste generation; all factors that are influenced heavily by industry and large corporations.
While there are unavoidable by-products of the pharmaceutical
, medical devices and life sciences sectors, what can companies be doing individually to raise awareness of environmental issues and to influence their corporate footprint?
What is Your Corporate ‘Footprint’?
The footprint of your organisation includes several factors – your capital, talent, machinery and equipment, contract manufacturers, facilities; how efficient and environmentally conscious each of these cogs that make up your organisation are, culminates in your corporate footprint.
Organisations with more of a focus on lower emissions, reducing waste and using environmentally friendly materials have less of a footprint and are better for the planet than those who don’t.
It is within the last ten years that the environmental impacts of industry have taken centre stage in current global affairs, as scientists warnings get starker every year. A recent report published in the BioScience journal
warned that ‘to secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live [this] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions’.
Environmental issues are part of the UAEs Vision 2021 programme, intending to maintain a sustainable environment infrastructure by 2021. The country has set KPIs to reducing emissions and meeting sustainability goals and is urging institutions to do their part.
While organisations across all sectors are doing their part, there is a heightened need for pharmaceutical organisations, in particular, to be environmentally aware.
A study conducted earlier this year on carbon emissions found that globally, pharma companies put out 13% more emissions than car manufacturers, despite having a 28% smaller market.
Emissions within the pharmaceutical industry were found to vary wildly, with companies of similar outputs recording vastly different carbon emissions. World leader Bayer reports on their emissions from pharmaceutical and medical equipment as one lump sum, making it difficult to ascertain the individual environmental impacts of these practices.
Aside from carbon emissions, issues arise from pharmaceuticals which accidentally enter the environment at various stages in their life-cycle. While this is a problem which has been identified for some years, as recently as earlier this year, a report revealed that pharma companies lack a clear and transparent commitment to protecting the environment from pharmaceutical leakages.
What Can Pharma Companies Do?
Reducing the environmental impact of the production and distribution of pharmaceutical products is a big task, but it is not impossible. It all comes down to the willingness of each company to commit to making a difference.
There are two main areas of focus for pharmaceutical companies to reduce their corporate footprint. The reduction of emissions and increased environmentally friendly practices; and the reduction of pharma waste into the environment.
For any company striving to reduce its corporate footprint, there are strategies that they can adopt. The focus must come from the top down, as the changes will have more of an impact if those at the top are seen to be backing the environmentally-friendly practices.
Your strategies should include-
- Benchmark and set organisational targets and periodically review if your company is meeting/exceeding your green targets.
- Avoid using the cheapest form of energy and look into renewable energy providers over fossil fuels.
- Where possible, switch to electric fleet vehicles for the distribution of products. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common as the technology improves.
- Companies should reference the National Climate Change Plan of the United Arab Emirates to find out more about how their organisation can help meet the UAEs environmental targets.
Reduction of Pharma Waste Into the Environment
To reduce the amount of pharmaceutical waste which makes its way into the surrounding environment, those working in the sector can-
- Educate patients on the importance of disposing of unused drugs correctly.
- Physicians and those working in the industry should always follow the correct procedures of disposing of pharmaceutical waste.
- Pharmaceutical industries should be encouraged to implement strategies for the proper disposal or recycling of unused drugs and waste.
- Hospitals and organisations should implement better management practices for disposing of pharmaceutical waste.
The effort to reduce global warming is a combined affair and one which all pharmaceutical companies are responsible for.
Sustainability for pharma companies is always going to be a challenging issue, but a multi-faceted approach to reducing environmental harm is the best method to adopt.
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