Green pharmaceutical manufacturing
Rebecca Aris interview Johan Geerinck
Johnson &, Johnson
The demand for implementation of sustainable processing in the pharma industry is increasing and is becoming a larger focus for the industry. However, achieving this is not a simple process. Companies are therefore turning to green manufacturing as an important step in their sustainability objectives.
Some companies have already made huge strides in altering production processes to increase sustainable manufacturing and reducing their environmental impact. Johan Geerinck of Johnson &, Johnson speaks with pharmaphorum on the steps that Johnson &, Johnson are taking to ensure sustainable manufacturing. Ahead of his speaking engagement at NextLevel Pharma’s ‘Best Practices in Implementing Green Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’ Johan shares his thoughts on how pharma can become greener.
RA: Hello Johan and thank you for joining me. Could you please start by explaining your background and your current role?
JG: My current role within Johnson &, Johnson is Vice President of our Environmental Health Safety and Sustainability for the pharmaceutical group. J&,J consists of three large divisions, we have a – Medical Devices and Diagnostics division, we have a consumer division that focuses on skincare, oral care, baby products, etc. and we have a pharmaceutical division. Johnson &, Johnson has about 120,000 employees, 140 manufacturing plants and we have a total annual revenue of $65 billion.The pharmaceutical group is the second largest of the three divisions from a revenue perspective it has a supply chain, commercial organisation and also research and development. I am leading the efforts to ensure that our employees are working in a safe manner, that we keep them healthy and that we take care of the environment in which we operate. Since a couple of years ago, we also took on broad sustainability as a key value driver for the company. Our Credo is the north star of the company and is part of the J&,J DNA. It is the guiding principle on how we run our business and approach the market place so besides focusing on the efficacy of our products we also try to provide customer insight in our efforts to make our overall business more sustainable and here are some examples on how we are working our sustainability efforts as a supplier, (1) we’re helping hospitals and HCP’s become more sustainable through partnerships with Practice GreenHealth/Healthcare Without Harm. (2) we’re investing in technologies that are more efficient in areas like API manufacturing that are both sustainable and reduce costs. (3) we are asking OUR supply chain, as part of Healthy Future 2015, to set goals and be transparent about them.
RA: Do you think the industry as a whole is perceived to be responsible when it comes to environmentally sustainable manufacturing and why do you think this is?
JG: I believe that the pharma industry has a pretty good reputation from an environmental and safety perspective, especially if you compare it with some of the other industries. One of the reasons is that we have been investing quite a lot of resources in those areas and you can clearly see it also on our bottom line EHS2 performance. We are definitely considered as one of the leading industries and companies in those areas.
RA: What do you think can be done to make people trust the industry more in terms of being environmentally sound?
JG: One of the areas where we definitely can improve is our transparency. We need to communicate more on all of the good things that we are doing within the company to protect our environment. The reason why we say ‘okay, we’re going to take sustainability on board’ is because everyone within the company is convinced of the fact that we are doing great stuff. Our customers and our stakeholders are not always aware of all the good things that we are doing. We can even capitalise on it in the market place because our customers are also becoming more and more environmental conscious, everyone is aware that something has to change in our consumption society, our current society model is not sustainable on the long term and J&,J has always been a leading company in investing the necessary resources to ensure continuously improving our environmental footprint of our business.
We have always been acting as a good corporate citizen to ensure the next generation can still enjoy mother earth. By being more transparent and being more communicative as a company to all our stakeholders we will gain more trust and this will be reflected in an improved reputation of the entire industry.
RA: What driving factors exist within the industry for developing a more sustainable manufacturing process?
JG: The fact that it’s an industry that is in the health care business, we are responsible for finding solutions to unmet medical needs it is quiet normal that we don’t want to cause any negative health effects as a result of our business activities. So moving towards more sustainable manufacturing processes is fully aligned with our core values that our embedded in Our Credo where the patient is our first responsibility.
“One of the areas where we definitely can improve is our transparency and our openness. “
RA: What do you see to be the biggest challenge to pharma companies in creating more sustainable processes?
JG: Well we have been pretty active over the last couple of years on what we call the PIE issue – Pharmaceuticals In the Environment. There has been quite a lot of media coverage on pharmaceutical ingredients ending up in our surface water and even tap water. Ensuring that we minimize the pharmaceuticals that end up in the environment as much as possible is a challenge we face. This is not only related to the supply chain, but also studying potential impacts of active ingredients that enter the environment by normal patient and consumer use and excretion into sewer and wastewater treatment systems. This includes farm animals through their ingestion and excretion of hormones, antibiotics, and veterinary medicines. Manure containing traces of such pharmaceuticals is spread on land and can then wash off into surface water and even percolate into groundwater.
Another pathway is through improper disposal of unused or expired medicines by individual consumers and intermediaries, such as hospitals, hospice providers and caregivers. The third pathway is wastewater effluent from pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.
We are actively engaged on this PIE issue both on our own and in cooperation with academia, industry and government to support further scientific study to better understand the impact of trace amounts of pharmaceutical and other compounds on the environment.
We conduct Environmental Risk Assessments for all new drug compounds and have collected environmental risk assessment data for all our major J&,J pharmaceutical products including a prioritized list of legacy products.
We work closely with regulatory and environmental agencies to ensure the potential impact of pharmaceuticals on human health and on the aquatic environment are understood and minimized.
To find better solutions for treating pharmaceutical actives in the wastewater, we have collaborated with academic and industrial organizations on basic and applied research. This year, we have a goal of piloting advance treatment technologies at several manufacturing sites to achieve even better wastewater treatment performance.
RA: What initiatives are you undertaking at Johnson &, Johnson to aid sustainable manufacturing?
JG: Green pharmaceutical manufacturing begins with having greener pharmaceutical synthesis processes. For years we have been members of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Pharmaceutical Roundtable that strives to integrate and promote green chemistry into the business of drug discovery and production. Green chemistry practices decrease environmental impacts by reducing wastes, incorporating non-toxic components, and improving efficiency.
As an industry group we have been focusing on four strategic priorities: Informing and Influencing the Research Agenda, Defining and Delivering Tools for Innovation, Educating Leaders, and Collaborating Globally.
Within Johnson &, Johnson we have developed a specific 2020 Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Sustainability strategic plan. We have identified 13 tactics in order to reduce our environmental footprint of our supply chain. The 13 target area’s of focus are:
- Move to e-inserts
- All 2° and 3° packaging contains >,30% PCR content
- Access to one gallon of clean water for every gallon saved + 20% water reduction (2)
- Elimination of petroleum based packaging à move to packaging from renewable sources
- Manufacturing effluent is totally free from product levels that could pose a threat to the environment (2) (Pharmaceuticals in the Environment- PIE)
- All Janssen plants are zero waste to landfill,
- Bottles out of the box – elimination of all 2° packaging for solid dose products
- All shipments to key end users (e.g., cold chain) using returnable, reusable shippers
- Carbon footprint of entire supply chain is fully understood (Scope 1, 2 &, 3 emissions) and reported
- All packaging material received from key suppliers is fully reusable / returnable and/or recyclable
- Move Fleet toward Electric Vehicles
- All Janssen Campuses are Powered by 100% Renewable / Clean Tech Energy
- One community served for each new Janssen renewable energy installation through development of solar power for clinics and schools in developing world
RA: Johan thanks very much for your time and insights.
JG: Thank you very much.
About the interviewee:
Pharmaceuticals Johan is currently Vice President, Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainability (EHS2) for the
Johnson &, Johnson (J&,J) Global Pharmaceutical Supply Group, named Janssen Pharmaceuticals..
His areas of responsibilities span the global Janssen pharmaceutical supply chain (internal – 24 manufacturing sites – and external manufacturing – 150 manufacturing sites), Janssen research &, development and the Janssen commercial/marketing organizations. The Janssen global pharmaceuticals group consists of approx. 45,000 employees.
Prior to this position he held the position of Senior Director EH&,S for the European, USA and Latin America manufacturing sites and J&,J’s Worldwide Chemical Production sites (API). He acted for 5-years as the J&,J Global Leader Process Safety Management (PSM) in which role he developed together with his team the strategy and tactics to deploy PSM in 65 J&,J Manufacturing Plants (pharmaceutical, consumer and medical evices and diagnostics).
He has significant experience in EHS2 leadership (strategy and implementation) and he has a proven track record in developing leaders and developing, deploying and integrating EHS2 programs and processes into the business processes at franchise level and at the global level (across all J&,J business franchises). He took the initiative to set up a Janssen Global Pharmaceutical Sustainability Council that developed a strategic framework to capitalize in the market place on all the efforts that the pharmaceuticals group is doing to “green” its supply chain! This strategy was complemented with additional strategic areas of focus to broaden the concept of sustainability in the area of “access to medicine” and “employee communication/engagement”.
What can be done to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical products that end up in the environment?