Onyx is now licensed to manufacture commercial API from our UK facility

Driving sustainability in the pharma industry: Onyx’s perspective (Part 2)

As the demand for sustainably produced medicines rises, to ensure the future success of their therapeutics, pharma companies must align with global sustainability goals and any associated legislation changes. Representing an industry with a high carbon footprint, pharma companies are taking on the responsibility to help mitigate climate change and reduce environmental damage. As incorporating sustainability goals into processes can be complex, working alongside contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) can help companies incorporate green initiatives, responsible sourcing and sustainable manufacturing processes.

In part 1 of this blog series, Julian Northen, Solid State Manager at Onyx Scientific, explored the challenges associated with achieving sustainability in pharma. In part 2, Chris Atherton, Commercial Manager, discusses the various factors pharma companies must consider to ensure alignment with sustainability goals and regulations.

Challenges on the road to sustainability in pharma

As discussed in part 1 of this blog post, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration in the pharma industry. However, it also can present several challenges for drug manufacturers. This ranges from:

  • The costs and time associated with sourcing sustainable raw materials.
  • Trying to achieve supply chain transparency when faced with a global supply chain.
  • Balancing economic considerations with sustainability goals when reducing waste and finding sustainable disposal methods.
  • The costly nature of reducing energy consumption and the complexities involved in considering transitioning toward renewable sources of energy.
  • Meeting regulatory requirements with sustainability criteria, which can be time-consuming.
  • Navigating extended timelines to market when trying to incorporate sustainable processes into manufacturing.

Overcoming these challenges is essential for meeting sustainability goals. Read more about them in part 1 of this blog series: Part 1

Sustainability strategies to consider

Many companies now require that their suppliers have or are developing a sustainability policy. This is a commitment to ensuring that their products or services are aligned with sustainability and responsibility for the environment.

A large number of pharma companies are a supplier of services and products while also being a customer, with a logistics supply chain to account for. This means there is a complex series of individuals and systems to consider when planning a sustainability strategy. Larger CDMOs have the resources to dedicate whole departments to developing sustainability policies, but this is often not possible for small and medium-sized pharma companies or CDMOs.

By considering small steps and implementing these across the business, pharma companies can identify and develop a range of strategic targets that promise an immediate and lasting impact on the company’s carbon footprint.

Promote positive partnerships and supply chain strategies
CDMOs must collaborate with pharma companies to ensure that sustainable practices are integrated seamlessly into the production process and green objectives are considered. By responsibly sourcing materials and considering the supply chain, it is possible to reduce waste and promote energy-efficient manufacturing.

  • Implement process systems engineering (PSE) tools
    Employing PSE tools provides the means to analyze, optimize and control various aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing such as chemical synthesis, drug formulation, granulation and fill/finish, and packaging. By reducing consumption, minimizing waste and improving energy efficiency, pharma companies and CDMOs can operate in an environmentally responsible and, importantly, economically viable manner.
  • Consider global and local sustainability
    It is essential to consider sustainability on both a global and local scale, to target unmet medical needs, particularly in economically developing areas where pharma production should be considered.
  • Ensure company-wide commitment
    By forming committees to define and achieve short-term sustainability goals, such as reducing employees’ individual carbon footprint, improving logistics and infrastructure, companies can improve their overall sustainability.
  • Consider human impact and resources
    Investing in employees and providing sustainability training equips them with the knowledge and awareness needed to make informed decisions that align with the company’s sustainability goals. By fostering a workplace that understands the importance of sustainability, it is possible to drive long-term sustainable practices and enhance the reputation of a socially responsible organization.

What is the Onyx approach to sustainability?

Onyx’s strategy is one of evolution from within. By implementing training and motivating employees, Onyx set up a working group to create short- and long-term sustainability initiatives that are achievable and continuous. This approach allows for invested individuals to add value to the company, the local environment and the wider scientific community that the industry serves and interacts with. The working group has been focused on identifying and developing the above strategic targets that promise an immediate and lasting impact on the company’s environmental footprint.

  1. Incorporating green chemistry practices
    It is essential to strive to create more sustainable chemical processes. This can be achieved through green chemistry and process optimization, maximizing yields while using readily available and sustainable materials. Green chemistry emphasizes the adoption of these “greener” alternatives. By linking green chemistry principles to larger-scale PSE, it is possible to contribute to a more environmentally responsible and efficient chemical industry.
  2. Lowering energy consumption
    By establishing clear goals, implementing smart sensors for lighting control and enforcing a switch-off of IT equipment overnight or during non-operational hours, Onyx is actively reducing electricity consumption.
  3. Reducing water consumption
    Evaluating and implementing dry condenser technology across applicable scales of operations is combatting water consumption.
  4. Minimizing environmental impact
    Focusing on the supply chain and delivery consolidation minimizes carbon footprints. In addition, moving towards a paperless approach wherever possible and engaging in local environmental initiatives such as litter-picking and creating recycling points adds to this environmental effort.
  5. Considering employee wellbeing
    By fostering a sense of community with the help of a social committee, it is possible to promote sustainable transportation through cycle-to-work schemes, encourage physical activity via sporting initiatives and implement lending libraries, all to promote employee wellbeing.
  6. Incorporating internet policies
    Implementing internet policies, exemplified by organizations like Mozilla who emphasize a clear sustainability pledge, will make sustainability a core element of the business, down to the internet ecosystem.

Striving for a sustainable future

Sustainability in pharma is becoming a strategic necessity. There are many multifaceted challenges associated with achieving sustainability, including supply chain complexities and regulatory pressures. However, companies are increasingly recognising that integrating sustainability into their operations and partnerships aligns with global societal expectations and offers long-term benefits. As the industry moves forward, the pursuit of sustainable practices in pharma development will remain a pivotal aspect of drug manufacturing.

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