Carbon

We are committed to reducing carbon emissions across our entire value chain.

Chain carbon footprint infographic
carbon infographic

Value chain carbon footprint

Download our detailed value chain carbon footprint PDF

Raw materials

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. Around 50% of our carbon footprint comes from our supply chain, so working with our suppliers to help them reduce their carbon emissions is critical to achieving our carbon goals. That is why we are working closely with them to help look at ways we can reduce our collective environmental impact.

We work with EcoVadis to provide an extensive independent assessment of our third parties, assessing a range of areas including environment and sustainable procurement. If efforts fall below the standards we expect then suppliers can work with EcoVadis in order to improve their performance.

Supplier recognition

We recognise outstanding sustainability performance from our suppliers through the annual GSK Supplier Environmental Sustainability Award. The winners collect a trophy and £1,000 to donate to Save the Children.

In 2018, the awards went to KusuMa PharMa for its highly innovative project of harvesting rainwater to replenish the groundwater, helping them to become water neutral, and to DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, for its initiative to reduce waste incineration: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, whilst also improving air quality for employees and the surrounding community.

These awards offer us a great opportunity to share ideas and initiatives among our suppliers in order to improve sustainability at GSK.

 

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Operations

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 in renewable energy, and use waste as fuel for energy. For example, the wind turbine installed at our site in Cork, Ireland, is now generating around 30% of the site’s electricity, delivering savings of 4,100 tonnes of CO2. Globally, we aim to achieve 60% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030 to further reduce our operational emissions.

Metered-dose inhalers

Our manufacturing site in France has installed technology to capture emissions of the propellant released during manufacturing enabling the recovered gas to be sent for recycling and reuse in non-medical applications as well as reducing GHG emissions.

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%.

Green chemistry

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. 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.

 

 

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Logistics

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 4% 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.

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Product use

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

Around 28% of our carbon footprint is from patient use of our metered dose inhalers. In 2017, the Carbon Trust certified the carbon footprints of all our UK respiratory inhaler products according to the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Sector Guidance for Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices. This assessment showed that the lifecycle carbon footprint of our dry powder inhalers is around 24 times lower than a propellant-based inhaler.

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Disposal

A pile of inhalers to be recycled
Inhalers for recycling

We are keen to increase the 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 1.5 million used inhalers to pharmacies where they are sent back to us to be recycled through our Complete the Cycle scheme.

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