Product environmental stewardship

What is Product environmental stewardship at AstraZeneca?

Company efforts to identify and address the environmental impact of products from discovery in early R&D through development to launch of a new product and during its commercial lifetime to end-of-use.

Our targets and progress

Our approach

Although we have worked on Product environmental stewardship for many years, along with our stakeholders, we have now made it a priority issue through the materiality assessment. We follow a life-cycle approach that covers all stages of our products, including procurement of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, sale, use, and end-of-life or reuse. Once we have identified the impacts, we look for solutions to prevent impacts. Then we focus on minimising and, when possible, completely eliminating impacts. Our approach involves a wide range of activities, as explored in the infographic below:

Our stories

Spreading our Green Chemistry knowledge

We created an innovative Green Chemistry tool to facilitate solvent selection. We recognised the impact this tool could have so we made it available to the public by donating it to the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Round Table (ACS GCIPR). Composed of 27 global pharmaceutical companies, this collaborative group is a leader in promoting environmental stewardship.

Solvents have a large impact on sustainability, especially in the pharmaceutical industry where around 50% of materials used to manufacture bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients are solvents. This tool allows users to consider environmental properties alongside aspects such as physical properties and regulatory needs. Our tool has predictive capability, and this is an advantage over other tools, which only provide a retrospective environmental lens. The simple nature of the tool has generated positive feedback across industry and academia. AstraZeneca is leading the further development of this Green Chemistry tool through the ACS GCIPR.

Designing out inhaler environmental footprint

Our pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI) therapies rely on hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellants, which are emitted during use and disposal, and contribute to our Scope 3 greenhouse gas footprint. While HFAs have no ozone depletion potential and a third or less of the global warming potential than the chlorofluorocarbons they replaced, they are still potent greenhouse gases.

During 2018, we initiated a project spanning all key business functions to investigate options available from an environmental, technical, regulatory, medical and commercial viewpoint. The environmental review includes life-cycle assessment of current products and potential options, and an initial pilot study for pMDI take-back and recycling programmes. Learn more from our Waste management page. It is imperative that decisions to address the product use phase greenhouse gas footprint do not substitute the climate impact for another environmental impact.

Smart packaging reduces footprint, saves money

We piloted a project to optimise the packaging of our tablets in blisters. This pilot redesigned packaging for a medicine used to treat high cholesterol. We have used a new, higher-quality foil to develop a pack that uses 30% less material. The benefits identified during this pilot were:

·       715 tonnes of CO2e reduced per year

·       $500,000 savings in material cost per year

·       $480,000 savings per year from increased productivity

·       $1.5 million savings per year in logistics costs

AstraZeneca’s globally managed suppliers in scope for environmental initiatives (environmental footprint data reporting and safe API discharges)

Number of supplier sites by country (update with the country information below)

Poland 1
Puerto Rico 1
Russia 1
Saudi Arabia 1
South Korea 1
Spain 2
Sweden 2
Switzerland 5
Turkey  2
UK 1
USA  6