Securing A Sustainable Future For The Biopharma Industry

As part of the worldwide efforts to address climate change, the biopharma industry happens to be committed to decarbonizing its operations and, at the same time, making manufacturing more sustainable. In order to support this seismic shift, they happen to be working pretty closely with solution providers so as to incorporate sustainability practices into their functions as well as construction projects.

The fact is that executing these alterations is going to lead to reduced emissions and the decarbonization of overall value chains. The companies whose sustainability practices happen to be the most effective will go on to enjoy a competitive advantage as well as deliver the most meaningful, positive societal effect.

Reducing Scope 1 & Scope 2

In a way, proactively reducing in-house Scope 1 emissions goes on to mean that pharma companies are taking the first pivotal steps on a sustainable path. This makes sure of their long-term marketplace viability and also meets the need for large-scale investments to go on to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions. In a broader way, it happens to be in response to consumer as well as other stakeholder expectations that surround corporate environmental responsibility.

Natural gas combustion, when it comes to steam generation, happens to be a major contributor when it comes to Scope 1 emissions in numerous industries, such as the biopharma sector. One of the most impactful strategies to cut Scope 1 emissions is by lessening the demand for steam-maximizing heat recovery and rather prioritizing lower-temperature hot water along with solutions that use electricity, such as electric boilers as well as electric humidifiers.

Biopharma companies with high energy demands also happen to have a significant opportunity to decrease Scope 2 emissions, which happen to be indirect emissions from purchased electricity, and go ahead and gain cost savings at the same time.

As happens with the case concerning direct emissions, elevating the heating recovery, avoiding waste, and using efficient equipment are indeed critical. In order to cut these emissions, biopharma companies happen to be also investing in solar panels in order to produce electricity on-site at their facilities along with their campuses. For their remaining electricity needs, they happen to be pivoting to 100% renewable sources like solar, wind, or hydropower in order to cut their Scope 2 emissions.

The Scope 3 Challenge

But the fact is that biopharmaceutical organizations go on to face a more considerable challenge as far as reducing indirect Scope 3 emissions, are concerned that are also known as value chain emissions, which go on to occur outside a company’s direct functions but still happen to be associated with its activities.

Scope 3 has almost 90% of the overall emissions that happen to be related to a biopharma company and its output, and the point is that they arise all across the entire life cycle of a product, right from the acquisition of raw materials to the disposal of the product at its end.

Scope 3 has emissions related to the supply chain right before a company goes on to receive a product or service- upstream as well as emissions post a company sells their product- downstream. The upstream group goes on to include the emissions from raw material extraction as well as processing, the purchased goods along with services, and the transportation as well as distribution of the purchased materials to the company.

Apart from this, the downstream group happens to be having in it the use of the sold products or services by the customer, the transportation as well as distribution of the products to customers, and also the end-of-life treatment of the product, like recycling or disposal. Working in collaboration with the biopharmaceutical clients, solutions providers happen to be indeed reducing Scope 3 emissions by way of identifying the biggest sources as well as making informed decisions concerning sourcing materials.

Solutions providers can go on to help biopharma companies map their complete supply chain in order to pinpoint the biggest emitters. This could include raw material extraction, the manufacturing processes of the suppliers, as well as transportation logistics. Tools such as life cycle assessments- LCA can go on to quantify the environmental effect at each stage.

A major challenge facing solution providers is around availability of the data, and the fact is that often they must depend on estimated data from suppliers along with the customers. AI can go on to offer an alternative, innovative methodology so as to support calculating and understanding such indirect emissions by way of data gathering and analysis and in processing unstructured data, which results in more accurate estimates pertaining to the emissions factors.

Eco-design happens to be yet another innovative approach that goes on to support the reduction in Scope 3 emissions. It is all about designing products with a focus on mitigating their environmental footprint. This could include minimizing packaging materials, optimizing production processes in order to reduce waste, or designing products for much easier disassembly as well as recycling.

Water stewardship as well as waste management

The journey to net zero happens to go beyond emissions reductions; effective water stewardship as well as waste management also happen to be the keys to making sure that biopharma facilities happen to function in a more sustainable manner. With manufacturing processes in a way consuming 95% of the total water use in a pharma facility, the requirement to optimize water usage is no longer a best practice choice but indeed a necessity for biopharma companies.

Environmental regulations also go on to compel biopharma companies in order to reduce water usage. Against this fabric, biopharma companies also go on to face a broader ethical as well as an economic dilemma as they look to balance their production requirements with responsible resource management, especially in countries and regions where water is a scarce commodity.

In response to this, the innovative water conservation strategies go on to demonstrate a proactive approach towards compliance as well as ensuring adequate water supply. They also decrease the dependence on fluctuating external water sources as well as increase operational resilience during times of drought or water shortages.

In order to achieve this objective, biopharmaceutical companies require to change and challenge how they go on to function their facilities. For instance, reducing the quality of water that is used within the production or changing cleaning equipment procedures.
Just like water conservation, the biopharma industry also happens to be focused on reducing waste generation and, at the same time, exploring recycling and upcycling opportunities for waste materials. This is a particularly important consideration as pharmaceutical waste happens to be complex and needs specialized treatment as well as disposal methods.

An added issue for biopharma companies happens to lie in the fact that numerous single-use plastic items that are used in manufacturing and packaging, like blister packs for medications, single-use syringes, IV bags, and tubing, as well as vials and protective gear for personnel, are not at all designed to be recycled.

Moreover, the complex nature of certain pharmaceutical plastics, often involving many materials or residues of medications, goes on to make them incompatible with standard recycling processes. In response, the solution providers are indeed supporting pharma companies in order to work collaboratively with their supply chain so as to redesign packaging by way of using new materials like bio-based plastics or making use of natural materials that can be easily recycled.


It is worth noting here that the biopharma industry happens to be committed to making its manufacturing operations more sustainable and transitioning to a future that’s decarbonized. The reduction of Scope 1 and 2 emissions happens to be the first important step on the journey to net zero.

Although cutting Scope 3 can indeed be more challenging, solution providers happen to be working in partnership with biopharma companies so as to map the entire value chain. By identifying the largest emitters as well as rolling out innovative designs and AI-led approaches, it is indeed possible to decrease the Scope 3 footprint. In parallel, there is also a requirement for effective water conservation as well as waste management strategies that go on to decrease usage and support effective recycling along with upcycling.

The journey to net zero is not without its issues and challenges. But a commitment to sustainability makes a company’s reputation more robust and also enhances public trust levels, while at the same time resonating with employees and going on to play a role in attracting a highly skilled employee base. These elements contribute to a more resilient, adaptable, as well as a much-prepared organization that is indeed primed to make its way in a changing world.