The healthcare packaging community may lag behind other industries, such as food and beverage, in its sustainability efforts, but that’s beginning to change.
A new study released by sustainability specialists Empauer and BtoB communications firm Adduco Communications reveals how global packaging professionals feel about sustainability, raising questions about its preparedness to implement and measure sustainability practices.
Conducted between November 2017 and February 2018, the confidential survey encompasses data from more than 1,000 global respondents, ranging from C-suite executives to designers, marketers, manufacturers and academia. Respondents represent the continents of Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa, South America and North America.
Although only 17% of survey respondents were from the pharmaceutical sector, 90% of them reported their management was well attuned to sustainability matters. Pharmaceutical respondents included senior product and sustainability staff from companies such as GSK, Novo Nordisk, Mylan, AstraZeneca and Takeda.
Asked about the pharmaceutical industry’s supportive management stance on sustainability, Victor Barichello, VP, Commercial Director, Empauer, said, “The pharmaceutical sector as an industry [indicated their] goals were higher than what they are actually achieving at a company level. As such, there was an acknowledgement that they still have a way to go to meet goals.” The suggestion here is that regulations—or potential regulations—may be nudging the pharmaceutical industry to move forward on sustainability efforts.
The overall survey results show a positive business sentiment toward sustainability, yet it’s important to know that many respondents lack the tools and resources to achieve sustainability goals or measure progress toward such efforts. Survey findings conclude that 55% of respondents fail to formally measure sustainability and environmental impacts.
“The lack of reliable and consistent reporting makes measurement of company and industry performance challenging, especially when more than half do not have access to professional measurement tools,” said Barichello. “Advances in software tools today provide an opportunity for industry to measure their impacts in a cost-effective manner to deliver on their sustainability goals and return on investment (ROI).”
Connecting the positive sentiment with the viable tools and infrastructure to bolster sustainability can be a challenge. The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) hopes to shed some light on the issue of hospital waste and recently announced a new project that will determine viable strategies for recycling multi-material flexible plastic packaging currently being discarded.