Circular economy

Shifting towards a circular economy.

In a circular economy, open production systems in which resources are extracted, used to make products and become waste after the product is consumed are replaced by systems that retain resource value and conserve energy. A circular economy keeps resources in use as long as possible, maximising their utility and minimising waste1.

In 2015, the European Commission published its action plan for the circular economy which includes proposals for legislation, investment and schemes across the following areas: product design; production processes; waste management; secondary raw materials; plastics; and critical raw materials.

Over the past year, we have taken a leading role in publishing the EFPIA2 White Paper on Circular Economy which sets out an industry response to the principals underpinning the circular economy and proposals for legislation.

The shift to a more circular economy could bring many health benefits, which is the driving motivation of the pharmaceutical industry.

This transition to a circular economy will require changes throughout the value chain, from product design to new business and market models, from new ways of turning waste into a resource to new models of consumer behaviour. We see this as an opportunity to harness our innovation expertise, drive the efficient use of materials and improve long-term business value. In 2017, we will initiate a circular economy working group and identify at least two circular economy opportunities to explore for development. 

More information is available in the EFPIA White Paper along with an article by our own experts who helped to produce it.


1. EFPIA White Paper on Circular Economy, October 2016:

2. EFPIA is the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, of which AstraZeneca is an active member.