Pharmaceutical companies are “all over the map” in terms of their environmental goals and transparency, but largely don’t set targets for their supply chains, according to a new report.
Green Research found that major pharmaceutical companies have between five and six public environmental sustainability goals, each on average. AstraZeneca leads with 12, while Merck brings up the rear with one.
There is also much qualitative variation between the goals, Green Research said. “Aggressive goals are more powerful than modest goals. Public goals have greater impact than internal goals. Quantitative goals are more credible than non-quantitative goals. And goals for the future send a signal that goals described in retrospect do not.”
On these measures, AstraZeneca again does well, with all 12 of its goals being quantitative and forward-looking, the report says.
Other companies considered in the report were Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly & Co, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi and Teva.
Across the sector, 90 percent of the goals deal with operational issues such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving waste management and reducing energy and water use. Product and packaging targets come second, accounting for just seven percent of the goals (see chart).
This leaves supply chain improvements as an untapped opportunity, the report says.
“The pharmaceutical company that announces aggressive goals for the sustainability of its supply chain will stake out a position of leadership,” Green Research principal analyst and founder David Schatsky said.