In the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued in August 2021, the organization stressed that while some impacts of climate change cannot be reversed, such as continued sea level rise, “strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) would limit climate change” going forward (1).
The pharmaceutical industry, like other manufacturing sectors, contributes to CO2 and GHG emissions and is aware of the need to increase the sustainability of its operations. The IQ Consortium’s Green Chemistry Working Group first met with FDA in 2012 to identify opportunities for promoting green chemistry (2).
The IQ Green Chemistry Working Group also adopted the Green Aspirational Level (GAL)—originally developed by Boerhinger Ingelheim (3,4)—as a standardized green efficiency goal for API manufacturing processes that factors in the complexity of the synthetic route; the consortium also developed a Green Scorecard to show the value-added impact of green chemistry and other improvements, including process simplification (5). Individual manufacturers are tackling the issue in many different ways.
Many technologies for ensuring cleaner energy consumption, abating emissions, and improving waste management have already been developed and, thus, are easier to implement and have more acceptable payback periods, adds Brian Peutherer, health, safety, and environment director at Sterling Pharma Solutions. “For contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), these solutions are the easiest way to make a significant impact on the sustainability of products without actually impacting API design,” he notes.
Sterling, for instance, has invested in a bio plant to treat wastewater, an anaerobic digestion plant to generate energy from waste, and a combined heat and power plant that generates approximately 98% of the energy used at its headquarters in Northumberland, United Kingdom.