UNITED KINGDOM – Global biopharma company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has launched a Sustainable Procurement Program to bolster their suppliers on their journey towards net-zero carbon emissions in procurement.

Supply chains account for a significant proportion of the pharmaceutical industry’s environmental footprint, especially when it comes to the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), which are very resource intensive in terms of their production of heat, water, and energy.

GSK revealed that 40% of its carbon footprint resides in its supply chain and that suppliers account for a substantial part of the company’s impact on water, waste, and biodiversity globally.

It will require and support suppliers to take action on carbon, power, heat, transport, water, waste, and sustainable, deforestation-free sourcing of materials.

Specific areas of action will include: disclosing emissions, setting carbon reduction targets and delivery plans aligned to the 1.5 degrees Science Based Targets initiative, and switching to renewable power and heat.

Other areas include achieving water neutrality in water-stressed areas, achieving 10% waste reduction, and aligning to GSK’s responsible sourcing minimum standards.

Further, GSK expects its transport suppliers to seek out greener alternatives.

GSK stated that it will actively support its suppliers in the adoption of new environmental sustainability measures and that the company is leading the development of several cross-industry collaboration projects to develop solutions at an industry scale.

Ongoing initiatives include the Energize program aimed at accelerating renewable energy adoption and climate action in the pharma value chain.

Drugmakers have increasingly put their environmental footprint under a microscope, rolling out power purchase agreements, renewable energy installations, and more in a bid to clean up their operations.

The company’s suppliers won’t be flying solo, either. GSK says it will support its partners with education and adoption of new sustainability measures.

In October, meanwhile, GSK will summon more than 160 suppliers to hash out strategies for its procurement program.

This should also give Big Pharma an idea of the support its suppliers might need on the path to a greener future.

GSK is far from the only pharma homing in on the E in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)—a measure of corporate sustainability that’s risen to even greater prominence thanks to increased industry visibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further afield, Cipla had commissioned a 30 MWp solar project at Tuljapur, and has now further added 16 MWp of solar capacity for supplying the renewable energy for its manufacturing units/facilities in Maharashtra.

This project is a big step forward in our goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. The project will support the company’s green energy requirements for its manufacturing units at Kurkumbh & Patalganga and R&D center at Vikhroli in Maharashtra, replacing around 70 % of total consumption for these units with green energy.

A host of other Big Pharma companies have thrown their weight behind using green energy in their production lines by harnessing sun, wind, and water in quest for a low-carbon future.