How does a global company balance the need to drive business success with the needs of the environment?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Managing our environmental impact continues to be priority for AstraZeneca. It’s an important part of our overall commitment to responsible business and it also makes good business sense.

For example, our work to reduce our carbon footprint and our use of natural resources brings benefit for the environment and for our business because of the associated cost efficiencies. Similarly, our efforts to minimise the waste we produce includes making improvements to our production processes which can also boost manufacturing efficiency. Our research into the long-term effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment and our work to improve the environmental profile of our medicines means we are helping to safeguard the environment for future generations but we are also protecting our business against potential long-term financial and reputational risk.

All of this activity is shaped by our Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) strategy, which provides a clear framework for managing our environmental impact and promoting a safe, healthy and energising work environment for our employees.

We have made some good progress against the five-year objectives that we set ourselves in 2005 to support our strategy, and we are on track to deliver most, if not all, of our 2010 targets by the end of this year.

Researchers examine local fish food sources

We are proud of our achievements but we know that there will always be more to do to make sure that we are balancing the changing priorities of our business with the needs of our people and the external environment.

Understanding our stakeholders’ perspective is vital to getting the balance right. We actively engage with stakeholders to hear what they think we are doing well or where further work may be needed. External benchmarking, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and our own internal Global Employee survey are other important means of evaluating our performance.

In recent months we have engaged in specific SHE-related dialogues with a range of stakeholders at both a global and local level. Feedback from these conversations has informed the development of a new set of SHE targets that will drive our continued commitment over the next five years from 2011 to 2015.

The targets are closely aligned with our business objectives and are designed to make sure that our improvement activity stays focused on supporting safe, efficient and sustainable operations across the company as we re-shape and grow our business.

Our new 2015 targets are ambitious ones, reflecting our determination to stay focused on driving continuous improvement in line with our long term commitment to delivering business success responsibly.

The targets focus on three core areas; Products, Processes and People & Partners, and are being introduced across our organisation now in preparation for adoption next year. Implementation will be managed through a series of short, medium and long-term projects and initiatives, tracked through transparent internal and public reporting.

In the area of Product stewardship, we are concentrating on improving the environmental profile of our products throughout their lifecycle – from when we first discover a potential new medicine to the end of its useful life.


Our 2015 targets

Product stewardship

  • Supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients: Safe discharges and 15% improvement in materials efficiency
  • Packaging: 20% improvement in material efficiency
  • Unused medicines: Encourage local initiatives and promote safe disposal by patients
  • Data transparency: All environmental data publicly available

The new targets also reinforce our commitment to minimising the environmental impact of our Processes by reducing the carbon footprint and natural resource demands of our own and our suppliers’ business activities. This is particularly important as we continue to increase our outsourcing in line with our strategic business objectives.


  • Supply chain: Understand footprint and prioritise reduction targets
  • Greenhouse gas: 20% reduction in greenhouse gas footprint
  • Waste: 15% waste reduction (hazardous and non-hazardous)
  • Water: Reduce water usage by 25%

In the area of People & Partners, we are focused on promoting a safe, healthy and energising work environment in which our people and those from third-parties working closely with us are able to express their talents, drive innovation, and improve business performance.

We believe that a safe, healthy and energised workforce with sustained high performance is fundamental to our future business success.

People and Partners

  • Fatalities: Zero tolerance
  • Accidents/illnesses: 25% reduction in combined accident and illness rate
  • Driver safety: 40% reduction in collision rate
  • Health & wellbeing: 80% of sites offer 6 essential health programmes or services

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