Survey Reveals Biopharma Companies’ Focus on Sustainability in Cold Chain Partnerships

Results note that sustainability is moving from a nice-to-have to a must-have, putting sustainable temperature-controlled shippers in high demand.

Given the need to meet patient safety while continuing to advance toward sustainability goals, it’s understandable that biopharma companies are busy researching sustainable temperature-control packaging.

What level of readiness are companies at in terms of switching to “greener” packaging? Pelican BioThermal, provider of temperature-controlled packaging, released results of its 2020 Biopharma Cold Chain Logistics Sustainability Survey. According to opinion leaders in biopharma cold chain, the biopharma industry is increasing its pace to prioritize sustainability in business and operational strategies. Nearly half of all respondents already always factor sustainability into cold chain purchasing decisions.

“Biopharma companies work every day to manufacture and distribute drug products all over the world, and their primary focus is on the safety and efficacy of these life-saving products,” said David Williams, President of Pelican BioThermal. “As biopharma companies begin to accelerate work on their sustainability goals, our survey shows they expect the same of their supply chain partners. The cold chain industry needs to continue its focus on improving green thinking to keep pace with its biopharma clients.” 

The full 2020 Biopharma Cold Chain Logistics Sustainability Survey may be downloaded here

Overall, the survey uncovered three key trends:

Action pending: Although 66% of organizations rate sustainability as very important, valuing sustainability hasn’t yet translated into widespread action. More than half of respondents—53%—reported their companies don’t currently use sustainable or green initiatives in their organizations. “But they have a desire to work with companies that help them advance their sustainability goals, ultimately moving sustainability from valuable to actionable,” the report says. “In 2015, the United Nations and its member countries created Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the world on a sustainable path to 2030. With mounting pressures to improve sustainability, including from consumers and corporate stakeholders, biopharma companies are actively looking for ways to preserve the planet, reduce waste and strengthen their brands.”

Relying on partners: The report notes that the second trend speaks to how cold chain partners can help advance biopharma companies’ sustainability goals and how biopharma companies seek to partner with like-minded organizations. More than half (53%) of biopharma companies indicate that it’s very important to choose cold chain packaging options that advance their organization’s sustainability. 

64% of organizations inquire about sustainability when performing audits of suppliers and 52% indicated that they were audited for sustainability by vendors supplying their organizations. Says the accompanying release from Pelican, “It’s not enough anymore to say an organization is committed to sustainability—proof is now important to prevent legal issues and protect reputation.”

Recyclability: Recyclability and lower emissions matter, with greater focus being placed on how cold chain packaging is constructed. Nearly half of respondents (48%) always look for cold chain packaging that is recyclable or can more easily enter the waste stream.

“Likewise, the industry leans toward lighter, more energy efficient shippers that reduce carbon emissions for temperature-sensitive pharma products being shipped by air,” notes the release. “More than half (56%) already use these shippers and 81% are likely to use energy-efficient packaging in the future. These solutions already exist, allowing biopharma companies to make quick progress toward sustainability goals.”

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