Waste management

What is Waste management at AstraZeneca?

Company operations generate waste, including biological waste and hazardous waste, and we work with specialist third parties to manage its disposal. Waste can have adverse impacts on the environment and human health through pollution.

Our approach

We look at waste not only in its end state, but also evaluate how it was produced. We promote a waste hierarchy, focusing on waste prevention and reduction, then prioritising the reuse, recycling, repurposing and safe disposal of the waste materials we produce in distinct ways: 

  • In production: We look for product design and process innovations to decrease waste by-products created during manufacturing (see Product environmental stewardship). We use solvent recovery systems to reduce the need for raw materials recovery systems recycle reducing the need for raw materials
  • On-site with employees: Employees identify waste elimination projects and implement process changes or apply for funding from the Natural Resources Reduction Governance Group (NRRGG)
  • For disposal: We maximise opportunities to reuse and recycle where possible

We are also exploring circular business models to maximise resource efficiency to a rate the Earth can regenerate and help the global community stay inside the planetary boundaries. We follow these circular economy principles:

  • Design out waste and pollution: designing out the negative impacts of economic activity that cause damage to human health and natural systems, including the release of greenhouse gases and hazardous substances, pollution of air, land, and water, as well as structural waste
  • Keep products and materials in use: favouring activities that preserve value in the form of energy, labour, and materials. This means designing for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling to keep products, components, and materials circulating in the economy
  • Regenerate natural systems: avoiding non-renewable resources and preserving or enhancing renewable ones. For example, we know that to achieve our carbon negative value chain target by 2030 it may be necessary to gradually transition from fossil fuels to biological sources for solvents and plastics where possible. We are considering any unintended consequences of this transition, for example there is a risk that producing bioplastics could drive changes in land use, water use and nitrogen and phosphorous demand

In 2020, AstraZeneca became a founding member of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance and co-authored the 10-point action plan for the circular bioeconomy. In parallel, we developed a roadmap to integrate circularity across our business. To support this process, we ran a virtual ideation event to source ideas on how we can apply a circular mindset across our value chain. The output was a prioritised list of actions for implementation across medicine development, product manufacture, devices, packaging, logistics, facilities and built assets and procurement. 


Our key targets and progress

See the Sustainability Data Summary for all metrics and methodology.

Our stories

Eliminating plastics from packaging
From plastic waste to by-product
Tackling process waste

Addressing our environmental footprint in the labs
Reducing single use plastics in our offices

Learn more about Waste management in our Sustainability Report.