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Lucy Chard
20 Jul 2023

Pharma CEOs write open letter calling suppliers to commit to sustainability

Several big pharma companies have added their names to a letter challenging suppliers in the healthcare industry to pledge to sustainability targets. 

Sustainability targets in the pharmaceutical and other major industries are often scrutinised and their efficacy questioned, as to whether they will lead to meaningful change or whether they are just ‘greenwashing’. 

Some global bodies and initiatives have worked to put together targets that are achievable, whilst also making a significant impact on the sustainability across industries. 

One such programme in the private sector is the Sustainable Markets Initiative, which sets out a series of targets and provides tools to achieve them, in the healthcare industry. 

The initiative is supported by over 500 companies, CEOs, cities, and countries, who came on board since it’s inception in 2020. 

Even with this impressive support however, more commitments need to be made to make a tangible difference globally, within the next few years. 

To this end, members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative Health Systems Task Force have published an Open Letter to suppliers in the healthcare chain to encourage them to also committing to join the initiative and work towards at least the minimum climate and sustainability targets.  

The letter, signed by CEOs of AstraZeneca, GSK, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Samsung Biologics, and the Chairman of Roche, outlines targets tailored specifically for suppliers, to aid them in reducing their emissions, and sets out a level of expectations to be met by suppliers as a universal minimum requirement. 

The letter is a hard-hitting and direct declaration of the impact of climate change, stating a rise in global disease burden, with seven million people dying prematurely due to air pollution each year. 

The contribution to this from the healthcare industry is about 5%, half of which stems from the supply chain itself. With Net Zero targets looming, the committed companies along with the WHO, are demanding a level of urgency from the rest of the sector to collaborate and accelerate efforts to meet these targets. 

The letter states: 
“Healthcare supply chains must become greener, more efficient and circular. We must work across the value chain to decarbonise operations, and do all we can to move away from fossil-fuelled heat and power. Having launched a set of core commitments at COP27, we are scaling our impact above and beyond the actions we are taking within our own organisations.”

Some of the joint, minimum targets suggested for suppliers include to assess and disclose Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 2025, to commit to switch to at least 80% renewable power by 2030 (and to make this commitment public), and to adopt water stewardship standards along with targets to increase efficiency of water usage in the supply chain. 

These targets were settled upon by seeking the best practices from various contributors in the industry, to include applicable perspectives. Member pharma companies will already start to engage in strategies to meet the targets with their suppliers, with the hope that more will soon follow with this increased support. 

Read the letter here

Source: Sustainable Markets Initiative. Open Letter to suppliers published by members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative Health Systems Task Force. [Date Accessed 20/07/2023]. 

Mentioned Companies
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Samsung Biologics Co., Ltd.
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Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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