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Environmental stewardship

Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change. We continue to take steps to ensure that raw materials, such as wood-based packaging materials and palm oil, are sourced responsibly. 

Protecting and restoring the planet’s health to protect and improve people’s health

In November 2020, we announced ambitious new environmental sustainability goals in both climate and nature. 

Read more about our new goals.

We have a public position on deforestation-free sourcing (PDF)which commits to take steps to ensure that we are sourcing commodities in a responsible way.

Palm oil

Palm oil production can have damaging effects in important rainforest areas. In 2016, in collaboration with Rainforest Alliance, we developed a sourcing standard for oil palm materials1 which we piloted with selected Consumer Healthcare brands. Our current focus of activity is to understand oil palm derivatives and how our suppliers who provide these materials address environmental issues. Our aim is to ensure that all direct suppliers of palm oil, kernel oil and its derivatives used in our products are free from deforestation, although we recognise this is a challenge due to the complex nature of our supply chains.

We are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); a global, multi-stakeholder initiative promoting the production and use of sustainable palm oil.

Paper packaging

We have been working with the Rainforest Alliance to map risk in our paper packaging supply chain. We used this analysis to support our sourcing standard for packaging, and we regularly assess suppliers to ensure they meet the standard2. We set a 2020 goal to source at least 90% of our paper packaging from responsible sources. In 2018, we successfully exceeded this goal with 93% of our paper packaging sourced responsibly (increasing from 88% in 2016). We are continuing our focus on responsible packaging and are now aiming to source 100% of our paper packaging from responsible sources by 2030. 

Plastic packaging

The packaging of our products plays an important role in delivering safe, stable and trusted medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products. However, we recognise the impact that plastic packaging has on the environment.

We are working on a plan to reduce our plastic packaging, making it recyclable, and exploring how we increase use of recycled plastic content, recognising that medical regulations around the world place significant constraints on the use of recycled materials.

While we have completed a review of our plastic use across the business – which found that 70% of our plastic footprint is associated with our consumer healthcare products – this took place before the integration of the Pfizer Consumer Healthcare business. We are now updating this to include the impact of the joint venture. We are also implementing initiatives to reduce, and remove where possible, single-use plastics across all GSK offices worldwide.

1 GSK expectations for oil palm materials: no deforestation, no development on peatlands, no human exploitation and respect of the rights of local or indigenous communities, access by suppliers and producers to a credible grievance mechanism
2 GSK minimum conditions for virgin wood fibre specify the material must be from legal origin and must not be harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights, in high conservation value forests, or from forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use.