Pfizer’s Approach to Incorporating Sustainability in the Development of MedicinesSeptember 5, 2023
Today, the global healthcare system contributes an estimated 4-5 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a supplier to the healthcare system, Pfizer is committed to advancing a climate action strategy based on science. Building on a 20-year legacy of climate action, Pfizer is advancing new and expanded initiatives to help foster sustainability across its global manufacturing, supply, and distribution chain.
“Continued climate change has led to observable effects and may be linked to not-so-obvious effects, such as potential increased health risks from air pollution, extreme weather events, and pressures on mental health,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman & Chief Executive Officer.
“Global action and collaboration are needed to help address these issues, and as a private-sector leader, Pfizer is committed to responding.”
As we aim to achieve the voluntary Net-Zero Standard by 2040 – a decade ahead of the timeline outlined in the standard – Pfizer is working to better understand and minimize the environmental impact of its medicines.
Through scientific innovation we strive to design more efficient processes that can reduce the environmental impact of our medicines throughout the product life cycle, including in the supply chain. In 2022, the company conducted representative life cycle assessments across its product line, identifying focus areas in its development and manufacturing processes to help guide preventative actions where we can have the most impact, with a particular emphasis on GHG emissions reductions. For example, by understanding where the use of solvents is most prevalent, Pfizer can focus efforts as part of its aim to reduce the use of undesirable solvents in research, development, and manufacturing.
Recognizing the connection between climate change, natural ecosystems and biodiversity, Pfizer aims to protect and sustain the health of natural habitats across its global sites. For example, in Itapevi, Brazil, Pfizer has been working to increase biodiversity by doubling the number of native trees onsite. As of 2022, there are more than 2,000 trees on the property that not only provide additional habitat and shade, but also help clean the air and can act as a carbon sink.
In 2022, Pfizer published a Water Stewardship position statement, which outlines the company’s commitment to being good stewards of the water it uses to make medicines, particularly in water-stressed areas. The company completed water risk assessments at all Pfizer sites in 2022 to better evaluate and understand water quality and scarcity issues across its network.
Pfizer is committed to limiting discharge of active pharmaceutical ingredients to wastewater from our manufacturing processes, using environmental risk assessment methodologies and emission control practices and technologies. In 2022, the company participated in an effort led by the AMR Industry Alliance and BSI Standards Limited to develop an antibiotic certification scheme designed to demonstrate implementation of the Antibiotic Manufacturing Standard through an independent third-party certification body. Pfizer is one of the first companies to participate in the 2023 certification assessment pilot.
Waste Reduction and Management
Minimizing waste is central to Pfizer’s sustainable medicines program. The company consistently seeks waste minimization opportunities in its research, development, and manufacturing operations. In support of reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle strategies, Pfizer utilizes internal metrics that drive waste handling decisions to help improve the circularity of our sites’ waste streams and promote minimization.
This year, Pfizer’s logistics center in Memphis, Tennessee took steps to reduce the impact of cold chain shipping operations. The company replaced Styrofoam shippers, which were only being returned by customers for recycling about 3% of the time, with shipping containers that can be easily returned and reused over 70 times. This reduced the amount of packaging waste sent to landfills by customers by approximately 90%.
Pfizer is making continued progress toward its priority environmental, social & governance goals, with a focus on supporting long-term value creation and a sustainable, responsible, and patient-centric business model. In 2023, the company will continue to seek opportunities to integrate sustainable design across its product portfolio, leveraging new innovations in science and technology to be a global force for good.
Forward-looking statements included herein are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. We encourage you to read our reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including the sections captioned “Risk Factors” and “Forward Looking Information and Factors that May Affect Future Results,” for a description of such substantial risks and uncertainties. These reports are available at pfizer.com and the SEC’s website.
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 Watts N, Amann M, Arnell N. The 2019 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate. Lancet. 2019; 394:1836–1878.