Our long term goal is to be carbon-neutral across our value chain by 2050. We are reducing operational emissions and engaging with suppliers and consumers to cut emissions associated with sourcing raw materials and using our products. This means not only managing emissions in the value chain, but also looking at more resource-efficient technologies to make our products.
Aiming to be carbon neutral
We are working to reduce emissions from our entire value chain while extending access to our products for the people who need them.
Understanding our value chain carbon footprint
Working with suppliers
We know that the impact of producing our products and medicines is much broader than what we do in our own operations. Working with our suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions is critical to achieving our carbon goals. In fact, around 40% of our carbon footprint comes from our supply chain. We view suppliers as critical partners in achieving our sustainability goals, and effective collaboration is central to that success. That is why we are working closely with them to help look at ways we can reduce our collective environmental impact.
By taking a value-chain approach, we are identifying risks and opportunities right across our entire supplier network – from our supply chain operations to our procurement activity. For example, for every tonne of palm oil we buy to manufacture Horlicks in UK, an equivalent mass of sustainable palm oil is produced.
We use Ecodesk, an online platform, to gather data on carbon, water and waste from around 270 suppliers representing approximately £1 billion - more than half - of our annual spend on raw materials used in manufacturing and R&D. More than 320 of our suppliers are now using our online Supplier Exchange Platform to share best practice, and in 2015, we worked directly with five suppliers to identify ways to reduce their carbon emissions from energy.
The GSK Supplier Exchange is a private online forum, where our suppliers are collaborating with each other and GSK to share practical ideas about improving resource usage, save water and increase energy efficiency. Suppliers use this insight to make improvements in their operations. In 2015, the Exchange won an award for Best Supplier Engagement at the Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Awards. If you are a supplier to GSK and would like to share your own calculated product footprints, or would like to know more about how you can participate in GSK’s carbon footprint exercises, please contact GSK’s Environmental Sustainability team.
Using sustainability data to inform decisions
We ask our suppliers to report their energy, water and waste data using Ecodesk*. We are using this data to prioritise our efforts to reduce suppliers’ environmental impacts – for example GSK has held energy reduction events with a number of our suppliers at their own sites. If you are a supplier to GSK and would like to disclose your information on Ecodesk you can find more information via the GSK Supplier Exchange.
Since 2014, we have recognised our suppliers’ achievements in reducing environmental impacts through the GSK Supplier Environmental Sustainability Award. In 2016, we introduced two awards: one for multinationals and one for small or medium sized (SME) companies. The winners collect a trophy and £1,000 to donate to a charity of their choice.
Supplier award winner
Albéa supply GSK with tubes for our toothpaste and won the award for its comprehensive energy efficiency programme. The programme has delivered 20 energy audits, decreased energy consumption by 20% at its new site, and reduced Albéa’s overall energy intensity by 9% in 2013.
Firmenich supply us with flavourings including the fruit flavours used in our Beechams powders. Firmenich won the award for its outstanding sustainability strategy which managed to save 10,000 tonnes of CO2 within its transport operations throughout 2014, and is anticipating an estimated 15,000 cubic metres of annual freshwater savings.
Multinational award winner
Dow Chemical Company are an American chemical company and signed two long-term agreements to purchase a combined 350MW of wind power, becoming the first company in the U.S. to power manufacturing sites to this scale.
SME award winner
Aitken Spence Printing is a Sri Lankan printing company that has become carbon neutral. The company has taken a holistic approach to sustainability and has made investments in green technologies to improve processes and enhance existing technology.
Reducing energy use, and the carbon emissions associated with the energy that we purchase, is an important focus of our programme to cut environmental impacts. We are investing to generate renewable energy, and use waste as fuel for energy. For example, the wind turbine installed at our site in Cork, Ireland, is now generating 28% of the site’s electricity, delivering saving of 4,100 tonnes of CO2.
We are changing the way we make antibiotics - looking for ways to save energy improve yields and reduce costs while maintaining the efficacy of the drug. We have achieved a 15% reduction in our antibiotics carbon footprint per pack over the past five years, while increasing production volumes by 40%.
We have changed the way we manufacture metered-dose inhalers. At our sites in Spain and France we have reduced the amount of propellant used to purge air from three inhaler brands by 75%. This has reduced GHG emissions associated with this process by around 40,000 tonnes of CO2E per year.
Abacavir used to treat HIV
We have changed the process to manufacture the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient, Abacavir, used to treat HIV. This reduced the product's carbon footprint by 7%.
We apply the principles of green chemistry when producing many of our medicines to help us reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals from the drug development and discovery process. See our position statement on Hazardous Chemicals Management for more information. Our Green Chemistry Performance Unit (CPU), established in 2012, researches ways to replace hazardous or unsustainable chemicals with lower-impact alternatives. We have also published a specialist guide that helps our scientists understand the environmental impact of different reagents - chemicals used to produce our medicines - and to encourage the use of lower-impact alternatives.
We are looking to make efficiencies in the transportation of our products in air, road and sea.
We are partnering with our logistics providers to reduce emissions from the transportation of our products, which account for around 2% of our carbon footprint. For example, we have encouraged our suppliers to invest in specialised trailers that can support storage at two different temperatures so products requiring different levels of refrigeration can be transported together. This has enabled us to take more than 1,500 vehicles off the road and cut carbon emissions by 1000 tonnes CO2e per year. We are also using a route planning tool that enables our vehicles to reduce journey times, making each trip more efficient, further reducing carbon emissions.
Like so many companies across so many sectors, the most challenging area of our carbon footprint is in usage - whether by consumer or patient.
Use of our products
We have been working with the Carbon Trust since 2011 to measure the carbon footprints of our 40 biggest selling products to identify where we can make the most effective reductions from emissions associated with our products.
Metered dose inhalers
People using our metered dose inhalers accounts for 46% of carbon emissions. In 2014 the Carbon Trust certified the carbon footprints of three of our respiratory products according to the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Sector Guidance for Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices. This enables us to understand the carbon footprint reduction benefits of our newer dry powder inhalers, versus our older inhalers. We have shared these product footprints with the UK NHS and the National Formulary in Denmark.
We are keen to increase recycling of our products and to support the driving of positive behaviour change among patients and consumers.
The biggest carbon impact from customer disposal of our products comes from inhalers because there is often a small amount of propellant (greenhouse gases) left in them after use. Since 2012, we have encouraged UK patients to return more than 500,000 used inhalers to pharmacies where they are sent back to us to be recycled through our Complete the Cycle scheme. We are also working with healthcare trusts across the UK to combine health and environmental messages through projects like 'Don't waste a breath' in the Grampian region and 'Breathe better, waste less' in Brighton, which support patients to get the most out of their inhalers - reducing the need for emergency care and cutting waste.