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. 

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. 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, GSK recognises the impact that plastic packaging has on the environment. We have a number of initiatives in place to reduce plastic use, increase use of recycled plastic content and encourage the recycling of plastic components. For example, ensuring our packaging is no larger in volume, weight and thickness than it needs to be to fulfil its function of protecting the product.

In 2018, we took steps to understand and quantify the amount of plastic packaging that we produce globally across our business. We are now using this information to evaluate how we can further reduce the impact that our plastic use has on the environment.

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.