Waste and other impacts

Our goal is to halve operational waste by 2020. We are doing this by adopting four simple steps to eliminate, reuse, recycle and generate energy from waste – in that order of priority.

Performance in 2014

With a goal to halve operational waste by 2020, we are actively eliminating, reusing and recycling waste, as well as generating energy from waste. In 2014 we generated 159,000 tonnes of waste from our operations, 4% less than in 2013 and 11% less than 2010. We are continuing to explore ways to cut waste at individual sites to help us to achieve our target of halving our operational waste by 2020.

Operational waste

We recognise the need to continue reducing waste even as our business grows. The processes we use to manufacture medicines are complex and highly regulated by multiple governments across the globe. It can take several years to introduce major changes that improve manufacturing processes while reducing the amount of waste.

We cannot avoid producing some waste, but we recognise that this waste has a value. We aim to avoid sending waste to landfill, or other disposal with no positive benefit, and have instead focused on moving waste up the hierarchy by seeking opportunities to reuse it where possible, recycling or incinerating it to generate energy. We are starting to see some progress. The proportion of waste that is recycled or disposed of with a positive benefit has increased from 71% in 2010 to 74% in 2014. We continue to look for innovative ways to reduce and recycle waste at our sites around the world.

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. See our position statement on Hazardous Chemicals Management for more information.

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.