Companies within the life sciences industry are typically subject to more regulations than those in other industries. And this is especially evident in the packaging requirements that pharmaceutical and related businesses must adhere to.
The primary packaging goal is, of course, to ensure high standards of safety and sterility for the customer. However, while this must be the number one objective, in an age when companies must focus on working to limit their impact on the environment, other packaging objectives, such as sustainable packaging, must also become a consideration.
The Push Towards Sustainability
Businesses in other sectors have faced tremendous consumer and regulatory pressure to improve their sustainability records. So far, life companies have largely escaped this pressure. However, there are signs that things are beginning to change, and it’s likely that, in the coming years, life science companies will need to ensure that their packaging — and their other operations — are geared towards sustainability.
And there’s a good reason why this is the case. The improvements in other industries mean that the life science industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to sustainability. Pharmaceutical companies alone generated more than 50 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2015, which is more than the automotive industry.
So there’s a need for change, and if life science companies don’t change themselves, they’ll likely be forced to through legislature and consumer pressure. Some of the industry’s larger players, such as Novartis, GSK, and AstraZeneca, have plans to become carbon negative within a few years. For certain, a commitment to sustainability will be an industry standard before too long.
Where to Start
Brands that have not yet begun their journey to sustainable operations may find the process a little overwhelming. While companies in other industries have slowly been moving towards environmentally-friendly processes, those in the life sciences may find that they have a lot of catching up to do and not all that much time to do it.
A good starting point is to conduct an environmental audit. This could include analysing all elements of brand packaging, including the materials used, the environmental impact of packaging life-cycle (at all stages), and the potential for recycling. You’ll also need an understanding of the product needs and regulatory requirements.
From there, you can set goals and create a pathway for how you’ll reach those targets.
Improving Packaging: A Straightforward Sustainability Improvement
Improving some elements of your operations to make them sustainable will be challenging and may require extensive work over a long-term period. However, others are more straightforward. This is the case with packaging, which is one of the easier things to identify sustainability problems with and make improvements to.
Life science packaging can often involve the use of unnecessary plastic and other materials, such as paper, which can make products bulkier than they really need to be. In this case, a brand may be able to reduce its environmental impact simply by redesigning its packaging to make it smaller and more lightweight. This won’t only reduce the brand’s carbon footprint; it could also lead to cost savings.
In addition to the size of the packaging, companies can make their packaging more sustainable by replacing environmentally harmful materials with more sustainable products, for instance, by replacing non-recyclable materials like EPS foam with recyclable alternatives.
How to Further The Brand’s Sustainability Credentials
Upgrading your packaging to make it more sustainable is an excellent way to get started towards more environmentally-friendly operations. But it really should just be the starting point. In an age when sustainability is more important than ever, brands can benefit by ensuring that as many elements of their operations are earth-friendly.
One relatively quick and easy to do this is to get a carbon offset program underway. This is the process of eliminating carbon emissions in one area to make up for emissions created elsewhere. For example, if your company uses a lot of paper, then planting trees would be an effective carbon offset plan.
Other ideas include investing in renewable energy to power work facilities, buying carbon credits, and sourcing materials from local companies (thus reducing transport-related emissions).
Working With DiD
Ready to move towards more sustainable packaging? Then get in touch with us here at DiD, one of the best packaging development companies in the UK. We have extensive experience in companies just like yours design and create packaging that works for your company, your customers, and the planet. To get started, give us a call at +44 (0)1482 638380 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.