Trends expected to accelerate in the biopharma industry
| August 12, 2021
As eco-consumerism rises, individuals call for higher sustainability standards in the medical industry. Research and development are booming, and in the process, are generating surface-level and atmospheric waste. The new COVID-19 delta variant presents challenges for President Biden's national carbon neutrality goals.
Environmental and medical scientists work together, sourcing solutions to rising case numbers and climate change. New advancements present an increase in human health and safety with a reduction in ecological effects.
Before evaluating the trends, we must examine the industry's sustainability challenges.
Biopharma and the Environment
The biopharma industry utilizes biotechnology, generating medical drugs for healing. Biopharmaceuticals are antibodies and nucleic acids, like RNA and DNA. The high demand for these products pushes manufacturers and distributors to increase production efforts.
As production demands increase, companies must develop vast quantities of pharmaceuticals quickly and efficiently. The manufacturing drive leads businesses to utilize fossil fuel-derived energy. Conventional power sources are more accessible than sustainable alternatives, like solar or wind.
During combustion, fossil fuels generate an enhanced greenhouse effect. Their reaction alters Earth's natural atmospheric composition, disrupting the natural temperature control process. The atmosphere organically absorbs sunlight, creates heat, warms the surface, and emits excess energy to space.
But when greenhouse gases invade the atmosphere, they increase heat production. The pollutants also trap excess energy on the planet, generating more warmth. Over time, the entrapment of heat increases the global temperature.
The rising temperatures caused by unsustainable energy sourcing generates harsh effects, disrupting biopharma production. A significant impact of climate change is the increased evaporation rate. As the planet warms, the water levels of lakes, reservoirs, and rivers drop.
The biopharma industry requires vast quantities of purified water. Without a reliable and plentiful source, our access to vaccines may dwindle. Limited medical aid may cause a severe threat to society's health.
Additionally, the industry contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis. The inadequate disposal of medical equipment by biopharma companies generates surface-level and marine waste. Some 29 million tons of plastic could inhabit the ocean in total by 2040.
Without intervention, aquatic species will go extinct, and our global ecosystem will suffer. Fortunately, environmental researchers are developing sustainable procedures for biopharma companies to follow. Various trends are rising in the industry, decreasing the ecological degradation associated with production and distribution.
Renewable Energy-Powered Production
Novo Nordisk is a biopharmaceutical company in Denmark that's working to shrink its carbon footprint. They are one of the few organizations that are committed to the RE100 climate initiative. The company set an ambitious sustainability goal by sourcing 100% clean energy.
Other biopharma organizations viewed Novo's efforts and set similar sustainability standards. Johnson & Johnson established their eco-conscious goal by pledging to utilize 100% renewable power by 2050. The transition could significantly decrease the emissions associated with production and manufacturing.
Another up-and-coming biopharma trend will decrease water scarcity by conserving resources. The industry is water-intensive, especially when it comes to vaccine production. Companies may utilize current technology, increasing the sustainability of their practices.
Vaccine manufacturers source purified water through reverse osmosis. They can use the same process to repurpose non-potable water for medicine. Companies can utilize their access to technology and filter resources that are not drinkable in their original states, like greywater and saltwater.
Repurposing water significantly increases access to freshwater for drinking and manufacturing essential products. As the evaporation rate rises, we must conserve the water we have left and use it wisely.
The biopharma industry relies on single-use materials for manufacturing and distribution purposes. Disposable products save companies time and effort, helping them focus on the health of individuals. Unfortunately, they generate a significant quantity of waste when following the single-use model.
Environmental engineers and scientists search for sustainable alternatives to waste-producing materials. Fortunately, we can recycle a portion of the waste, creating new supplies. Though researchers have yet to repurpose products within the industry, they have developed unique solutions.
One organization is turning single-use plastic from the biopharma industry into synthetic lumber for construction. We can prevent further damage from deforestation and marine plastic pollution when repurposing waste. Professionals expect further technological advancement in the material recycling sector, helping eliminate adverse environmental effects.
A Sustainable Future
We can ensure the sustainability of biopharmaceutical production and distribution in the future by voting for change. You can also talk to your local government officials about increasing waste regulations in the health care industry to decrease surface-level and marine pollution.
Additionally, you can financially support eco-conscious companies over the alternatives and help increase the demand for sustainable goods.
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