Ways to make your pharmaceutical brands go green
“The pharma industry is worth 40 billion USD which indicates the massive impact it has on not just the world economy but also the environment.”
The pharmaceutical industry is worth 405 billion USD globally and is expected to grow upto 900 billion USD by 2027. In India alone, the industry is worth 40 billion USD which indicates the massive impact it has on not just the world economy but also the environment. All eyes are especially on Pharma businesses owing to the ongoing pandemic as it is likely to make strides to meet the need of the hour. Pharma businesses are responsible for researching formulas and developing drugs suitable for medication over the counter in label or generic form.
“Pharma waste goes beyond just the plastic problem.”
Despite the progress pharma companies are making towards research and development, there is a significant gap in regulating the waste being produced by pharmaceutical business. The lack of formal law and jurisdiction has subjected the environment to be polluted by pharma induced toxicity thus leading to a large-scale problem which matches the magnitude of this industry’s economic value. Moreover, pharma waste goes beyond just the plastic problem. The spectrum of waste includes expired drugs, used syringes, IV Bags, tubes, vials, used gloves, chemotherapy drug residue, hazardous waste, contaminated garments and left over personal medicines from individual patients.
Pharma Waste and Consequences
“While biomedical waste may not pose an immediate threat, there are long term consequences like plastic pollution and landfill exhaustion waiting in the making.”
Pharmaceutical waste is usually classified into hazardous, non hazardous and chemo waste. While hazardous waste poses serious threats like reactivity, corrosivity, Ignitability and toxicity, it is important to treat non hazardous waste or biomedical waste with equal earnestness. While biomedical waste may not pose an immediate threat, there are long term consequences like plastic pollution and landfill exhaustion waiting in the making.
Overcoming the problem
When it comes to managing pharmaceutical industrial waste, there are many factors to be considered. But touching upon the widespread issue of biomedical waste alone can curb the problem. Since a large amount of biomedical waste includes items like used gloves, PPE kits, aprons, shoe covers and other single use medical gear, it amounts to a large number of plastic waste that ends up in the ecosystem in the form of micro plastics and micro toxins.
- A hand in Glove sustainable approach: When it comes to disposable medical gloves, the industry is set to boom from 300 million to over 700 million by 2025. That makes it crucial to have a foresighted approach in managing the waste created from this medical sub product. Brands like NaturTrust have found a way to produce certified biodegradable gloves that leave behind no plastic toxins in the environment.
- Medical Aprons are here to stay: From surgeries to minor medical procedures, aprons are an essential commodity in hospitals and even small scale clinics. Not only do single use aprons lead to landfill scarcity, they produce an unusually high amount of waste compared to other items. Medical experts now have the option to switch over from single use aprons to bio based aprons which are relatively easy to decompose and lead to zero waste in the process.
- PPE Waste, an impending time bomb: It is no secret that since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a sharp rise in PPE waste generated from masks and medical overalls. China reported that since the pandemic, its per day production of single use masks and PPE kits soared to 116 million, indicating the large scale waste which can be expected to enter the environment. To treat the PPE waste problem before it escalates to disastrous proportions, it is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry to opt for bio based PPE kits, complexly eliminating traditional single use kits.
A Silver Lining to the pandemic cloud
In opting for eco-friendly equipment, the pharmaceutical industry is not only avoiding a waste crisis. But there are several other benefits of switching to eco-friendly options.
Preservation of the ecosystem: By opting for bio based products, the Pharma industry makes a missive step towards healing the environment. Once bio-based materials break down completely, only natural residues like water, carbon and biomass are left behind, thus keeping the environment free of micro plastics.
Overcoming Landfill scarcity: There is a scarcity in providing enough landfills to accommodate all the waste currently being produced by retail, Horeca, pharma and other industries. However, with every step these industries take towards embracing bio based products, the load on landfills decreases significantly. Bio based waste breaks down within a short time, thus not occupying landfills forever, which is usually the case for traditional plastic products.
Bio based pharma products are rewarding beyond compare as they go above economic and ecological benefits. Not only is there goodwill but also a degree of humanity in opting for ‘green’ products which are in sync with the values that the pharma sector stands for, thus making the practice of medicine more meaningful and fulfilling.