Supply chain & logistics

energy storage. At scale, waste heat could be reused and thermal energy harnessed. “It’s all about moving to cooling as a service,” says Peters. “You can fund [it] out of the operational running costs rather than the capital costs up front.” Dr Ying Xie, head of economics, finance and law at Anglia Ruskin University, is a sustainability expert who specialises in supply chains. She agrees local depots would cut costs, emissions and waste. “It would mean sharing resources and improving efficiency, but also enhancing visibility,” she says. “Visibility is key – data can improve pharmaceutical efficiency, especially in a cold chain, and all of this data should provide better visibility in terms of inventory, demand and supply shortages. We can then develop more advanced procurement strategies to mitigate problems.” Xie also sees an increasing role for automation in packing and distribution, as well as opportunities for augmented reality to improve warehouse sustainability. Peters believes cooling requires as much focus as plastics, electric vehicles and green energy, with the onus on government agencies, academics and the research community to drive solutions. He says pharmaceutical companies do not necessarily need to design systems, but they do need to “join the table”. “Cooling has inherently been the blind spot in the climate debate, but companies are not going to resolve their pathway to net zero without solving their cooling – it’s a significant part of their footprint and it’s energy consumption that’s the big problem,” he says.

Beyond box-ticking

One industry player that understands the need for sustainability is Roche, which has a corporate governance policy that places the environment on the same level as profit. Kelley Hinds, head of sustainability and risk for Roche Global Procurement, says the company’s green values are embedded in everything from employee goals and manufacturing to supplier contracts. It’s no accident that Roche has topped the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for more than a decade. It’s a complicated – and expensive – business. Hinds’ team oversees more than 60,000 suppliers in more than 100 countries and spends SFr18.5bn a year on that supplier base. “That gives us the power to influence the things we’d like to change,” she says. “Roche is large, we have power, we have resources and if we want to really make a big change in the world, if we want to tackle these environmental issues, we have to do it collaboratively.” Supplier contracts focus on human rights and business ethics in addition to environmental records. And it’s not just a box-ticking exercise. “It’s not enough just to enforce a contract. When a supplier doesn’t even know how to measure their scope one or scope two emissions, it means as a company we can’t properly measure ours,” says Hinds. “We go in

World Pharmaceutical Frontiers /

and do an audit, and we look for opportunities – what can we help the supplier do better?” Roche has partnered with the Manufacture 2030 tracking platform to not only measure emissions, but to also connect suppliers with companies that can help address issues like CFCs and HCFCs. “Most suppliers want to work on these things, but they may not have the budget or resources,” says Hinds. Hinds won’t be drawn on broader industry efforts to meet carbon targets, but she says companies like Roche have a duty to lead. “Ultimately, we need our peers to be working with us,” she explains. “You can’t just sit at the top of a big hierarchy and tell people, ‘you have to do this’. That’s what’s been happening for years… big companies telling suppliers what to do and threatening them with audits – that doesn’t actually help.”

The urgency to adapt is only increasing, as Hinds says environmental problems now present a business risk. She cites power grid problems, wildfires and water shortages in California, where Roche bases its Genentech R&D and manufacturing, as threats. “It’s self-evident that business cannot delay implementing these things. We are living with the consequences right now.”

“You can’t just sit at the top of a big hierarchy and tell people, ‘you have to do this’. That’s what’s been happening for years [and it] doesn’t actually help.”

Kelley Hinds Make it local

Xie, meanwhile, has her eyes fixed on end users, who she believes are having a negligible impact on forcing change further up the chain. “I don’t think environmental protection is ever considered by patients,” she says, contrasting pharmaceuticals with consumer electronics. A customer looking for a new electrical appliance might consider its energy rating, but patients usually want to address their own health problems before the planet’s. Likewise, GPs are focused on immediate outcomes. There needs to be more awareness at the local level about the impact of environmental negligence on public health. “Medical waste and medical devices waste are a big concern because they cause a lot of carbon emissions,” says Xie. “It’s not only a waste for the environment, but it’s about a reduction in the financial investment in the healthcare system.” She points to one estimate that valued waste in the NHS in England alone at £300m a year. “That is a massive amount that could be reinvested in frontline treatments and services.” Xie says much of that waste is caused by poor procurement and a lack of communication between

33 25%

Vaccines lost in low and middle-income countries because of broken cold chains. WHO

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