Earth Day 2018: AstraZeneca's Commitment to Environmental Protection

Sunday, 22 April, is Earth Day. More than 1 billion people now participate in activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This year’s theme is End Plastic Pollution, with efforts focused around what we can do to be the generation that ends plastic pollution. This is just one of the issues being discussed, with climate change and building a sustainable future also high on the agenda.

At AstraZeneca we take our responsibility to manage our impact on the environment seriously and Earth Day marks an important time for us to reflect on our achievements and efforts. There is of course always more to do, and we have set ambitious targets to make sure we are challenging ourselves in this area. Our science-based approach to environmental protection is industry leading and I’m proud of the progress and external recognition we’ve received in the last year.

Katarina Ageborg Executive Vice President, Sustainability and Chief Compliance Officer

Damage to the environment poses a serious threat to human health. Climate change is already harming millions of people around the world, and urgent action is needed avoid a global health catastrophe, according to a new report by experts from 26 organisations including the World bank and World Health Organisation[1].

At AstraZeneca our job is to help people be healthy, but this goes beyond developing innovative medicines. We work to reduce environmental impacts on human health and the natural world, using innovative science to find new ways to conserve our natural resources and ensure the environmental safety of our products.

Our science-based approach to environmental protection

We are committed to managing our impact on the environment, across all our activities, with a focus on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption, waste production and water use. Our approach is based on science-based targets, mapped to each of our environmental strategic priorities, and we’ve reached some significant milestones in the last year alone.

Our environmental protection priorities

Using science to fight against climate change

Climate change threatens to undermine the last half-century’s advances in global health. However, the solutions to climate change have direct and indirect health benefits, representing one of the greatest opportunities to improve global health. We aim to minimise GHG emissions and use science to contribute to the global fight against climate change. We’ve already achieved significant progress:

·       Achieved a 7% reduction in our Operational GHG footprint in 2017, on track to maintain at a level no greater than 2015 by 2025

·       We are working to reduce GHG emissions at our sites and from our vehicles (scope 1 emissions) as well as from imported energy such as electricity (scope 2 emissions). We’re already on track for both, reducing by 8% and 48% respectively, measured against our 20% and 95% target reductions by 2025

·       Under our new EUGoGreen initiative, we are expanding our portfolio of company vehicles to introduce a greater range of green car options across Europe

·       Our Green fleet standard sets maximum CO2 caps for new cars to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020. All our regional markets delivered fleet efficiency improvements from 2015 through to 2017 and Sweden, home to 2% of our fleet vehicles, plans for all new company cars to be electric or plug-in hybrids

Resource efficiency: energy consumption and responsible water management

We focus on reducing the energy and water we use and understand usage across our entire value chain and the whole life cycle of our products.

·       With RE100 our aim is for 100% renewable power consumption by 2025 globally. In 2017 63% of our total electricity imports were sourced from renewable sources

·       We are working towards a 10% reduction in energy consumption based on a 2015 baseline by 2025. We are on track, with a 3% reduction in 2017

·       We are listed on the CDP water A List for water stewardship actions and disclosures for the second consecutive year. In 2017 our water footprint was 3.89 million m, a reduction of 10%

Leading the industry on pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE)

We aim to lead our industry in understanding and mitigating the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE) by 2025. Our achievements include:

·       Co-authored 14 peer-reviewed publications on PIE

·       EcoPharmacoVigilance programme to monitor product risks post launch ran through 2017 with no significant risks identified

·       100% of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) discharges* from AstraZeneca sites demonstrated as safe

·       Learn more about our scientific leadership in PIE in this video:

Spotlight on our sites

·       Solar power at Wuxi: Since 2016, we have invested $5 million in solar power. Our Wuxi site in China installed a solar rooftop system which is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 734 tonnes every year, equalling nearly 4% of the site’s total emissions

·       Zero waste in Gaithersburg: In 2017, our campus in Maryland sent only 0.02% of its waste to landfill following our waste reduction challenge

·       Renewable electricity in Gothenburg: We began using a highly efficient heat pump technology at our site in Sweden. It electrifies some of the site’s heat demand and has the potential to replace over 60% of site natural gas consumption

·       Rainwater harvesting at Macclesfield: We’re collecting rainwater for use in flush toilets to significantly reduce water intake by 2,000m a year

·       Sustainable construction at Cambridge: Construction of our R&D building has achieved an ‘Excellent’ rating for the world-leading Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, highlighting our efforts to create an environment that will not only enhance staff well-being, but also help protect natural resources

*Scope is 50 APIs for which data is available to calculate safe API discharge limits and based on 2016 manufacture.


[1] The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation for public health. Published 10 February 2018. Available at:



  • Sustainability