Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is about operating our business in a manner that respects and protects our climate and natural resources.

Our approach spans the entire product life cycle and our science-based focus drives continuous improvement across our value chain. 


carbon footprint reduction since 2010


reduction in total waste since 2010


reduction in water consumption since 2010

What we're doing

Setting future targets

In 2015, we finalised a Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Strategy for 2016 to 2025. In setting our new carbon goals, we publicly committed to follow the Science-Based Targets methodology developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Our carbon targets for our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions have now been verified against what the science says is our fair share of limiting warming due to climate change.

Our commitments for 2025 include:

  • Carbon: limit our extended operational footprint to 2015 levels
  • Waste: work towards a 10% absolute reduction against a 2015 baseline
  • Water: maintain usage at 2015 levels as our business grows
  • Resource efficiency: 90% of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) syntheses to meet resource efficiency targets at launch
  • Ensure effective environmental management of our products from pre-launch through to product end-of-life.

For full details of our new commitments, see our Environmental sustainability update 2015.

Our Science-Based Target:

AstraZeneca commits to reduce absolute scope 1 emissions 20% and scope 2 emissions 95% from 2015 - 2025. In addition, the company will reduce all scope 3 emissions 25% per million USD of sales within the same timeframe.

To support the achievement of the Scope 3 intensity target the company set the following sub-goals: 1) reduce GHG emissions from waste incineration, business air travel, freight & logistics and first tier active pharmaceutical ingredients and formulation & packaging suppliers (>90% of category spend, energy only) 20% by 2025 from a 2015 base-year, 2) reduce GHG emissions per device from patient use of inhaler therapy devices over the same time period and 3) improve primary data collection within Scope 3 value chain greenhouse gas accounting by 2020.

These commitments will limit our 2025 extended operational footprint to 2015 levels. Please refer to our Environmental sustainability update 2015 for details of what our operational footprint includes.

Managing carbon across the product life cycle

This year, we reached the end of our 2010–15 carbon commitments. Our aim by 2015 was to reduce our operational greenhouse gas footprint by 20% against 2010 levels. We achieved a 21% carbon reduction against the 2010 baseline (excluding emissions from patients’ use of inhaler therapy products). In 2015, 6% of our total energy consumption was from certified renewable sources, achieving our ambition to increase supply by 50% from the 2010 baseline. Switching from air to sea freight was a major contributor to our carbon footprint reduction. 

Responsible water use

We are working to minimise our water use and ensure the water we do use is treated to the highest standards. Our company-wide target for 2015 was to reduce absolute water use by 25% compared with 2010 levels. We have initiated water conservation plans at all our largest sites and especially those that use large quantities of water or are in water-stressed areas. Since 2010, we have reduced our water use by 14%.

Responsible waste management

Waste prevention is our primary goal. Where prevention is not practical, we concentrate first on minimisation, then on appropriate treatment or disposal to maximise reuse and recycling, and reduce disposal to landfill.

Our aim by 2015 was to reduce our hazardous and non-hazardous waste by 15% from 2010 levels. We have achieved a 22% reduction in hazardous waste and a 14% reduction in non-hazardous waste.

Protecting biodiversity

We are committed to managing our impact on biodiversity – both on our own sites and when we use natural biological resources in our product development. We have now assessed potential local biodiversity impacts at 38 of our major sites, 25 of which are implementing bespoke biodiversity action plans (BAPs).

Where we use natural biological resources (such as plant or fish extracts), we acknowledge our responsibilities under the Nagoya Protocol. We are developing a governance structure, toolkit and standards to assist our researchers when using biological resources that fall under the Protocol.

Environmental product stewardship

Improving the environmental performance of our product pipeline involves a delicate balance between meeting patient needs and reducing environmental impacts. We aim to lead the industry in understanding and mitigating the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE). We are investing significant resources in understanding the fate and effects of our medicines in the environment, so that we can manage risks effectively.

Environmental risk data relating to our medicines

An overview of the environmental risk of AstraZeneca’s medicines. This information will be updated, if appropriate, as new data becomes available.