By Jacqueline Hollands, Global Manager, Product Recycling & Innovation at MilliporeSigma
The pharmaceutical industry produces life-changing and life-saving drugs daily. Now, the industry is seeking to have a positive impact on patients, while also making a more positive impact on the planet. Many biomanufacturers are exploring ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental footprint, but modern-day pharma manufacturing faces a particularly problematic environmental dilemma: plastic.
Each year, an estimated 5.5 million tons of laboratory plastics are sent to incinerators and landfills worldwide, and the biopharmaceutical industry contributes significantly to this problem, relying heavily on single-use plastics. While facilities using single-use plastics offer advantages like reduced water and energy consumption compared to stainless steel counterparts, they still generate substantial plastic waste.
Although returning plastic waste to supply chains is the preferred sustainable approach, recycling plastics from biomanufacturing proves uniquely difficult due to the challenges of circularity, quality, and infrastructure. Nonetheless, change is underway for the industry and is being spearheaded by industry leaders like MilliporeSigma.