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What does it Mean to be Green?

Strategies for pharmaceutical companies to benefit economically when specifying new, energy-efficient products that fit their corporate policies on sustainable product

With all the rhetoric surrounding the reduction of carbon footprints and CO2 emissions through the adoption of a green agenda and greater sustainability measures, does the industry really go far enough to endorse these values by tackling the use of environmentally damaging, finite resources? It’s all very well using image-enhancing buzzwords and talking about corporate responsibility through mandates, policies and agendas for reducing energy consumption – no doubt attracted by the incentive of increased cost savings – but this only covers part of the eco-friendly remit. Rather than paying lip service, the industry should consider what sustainability means, and should also be investigating other important costeffective green strategies that go further to improve the environmental impact of their operations, ultimately offering longterm economic benefit.

The built assets of companies in the pharmaceutical and medical sector contain a large proportion of manufacturing sites and laboratories, leading to a higher than average energy use compared with some other industries. Therefore, the opportunities for improving energy and a sustainable performance in facilities are significant.

Saving Energy

Improvements in energy are naturally a current focus topic for cost-conscious companies. On the domestic front, the focus on energy saving measures has already been highlighted in our high streets through the introduction of energy efficiency legislation, requiring suppliers of energy-using products to provide ‘snapshot’ information on their energy consumption for the benefit of the consumer. The success of the EU energy rating label scheme, from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) label scheme used for many electrical household goods has been significant, allowing consumers to make a betterinformed decision based on energy use. Energy labelling has also been adopted in other industries, for example, the British Fenestration Ratings Council (BFRC) label for double glazed windows and the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label for rating a wider range of electrical devices used in industry and domestically. Such schemes have encouraged manufacturers of electrical equipment and machinery to introduce features such as standby, sleep and power modes that reduce energy consumption when not in use, and amount to significant cost savings over the life of a product for the consumer.

In the US, voluntary label schemes such as ENERGY STAR® are helping manufacturers of equipment and devices – not only in the medical and pharmaceutical sector but across all industries – gain a competitive edge in producing energy-efficient products. The label is an indication that product performance has been verified and approved through third party certification, based on international standard testing procedures by a recognised accredited testing laboratory.

Going Greener

However, sustainability is about more than just cutting power consumption; it is necessary to look beyond comparing energy consumption figures and labels of competing manufacturers and take into account the wider issues of equipment manufacturing processes and product life cycle that affect the use of resources and waste. In fact, ENERGY STAR® has taken this a step further by introducing a scheme designed to set targets for manufacturers to reduce their energy consumption by five per cent during production in the next five years. Launched last year, the scheme has attracted 27 sites that will save 1.7 trillion Btu and 98,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

This initiative is welcomed by equipment manufacturers, who spend considerable time and capital investment developing and marketing machines that, as well as cutting power usage during operation, are also built with innovative features designed to conserve resources, minimising their impact on the environment. Indeed, some innovative equipment manufacturers are adopting a green design philosophy that can help the pharmaceutical sector to reduce its environmental impact.

For example, when comparing similar equipment, the design and manufacturing processes used for each machine will vary accordingly, and there can be a wide gulf between energy usage and wastage during production. Component parts can also differ in quality, material sourcing and supply methods used in procurement. This all adds up to different areas where energy is expended during the supply of these items, especially when being transported over considerable distances, while the choice and composition of component materials can also have an impact on the environment. Once manufactured, machine life expectancy and subsequent recycling after use also have to be weighed up in terms of sustainability. It is necessary to evaluate all these processes in terms of energy consumption use. This information can determine whether the specified manufacturer has marked sustainability in design and manufacturing as a top priority.

This philosophy is adopted by industry regulation ISO 14000 Environmental Management Standards. This provides a benchmark for manufacturing cleaner, safer and more efficient products by establishing sensible sourcing of components and product life cycle assessments, where ‘cradle to grave’ techniques are applied in assessing environmental impacts. The ISO 14000 standard addresses various aspects of environmental management including the requirements and guidelines for adopting environmental management systems.

Many organisations are now proactively seeking to run their business in an environmentally sustainable manner by subscribing to the ISO 14000 programme. For energy-using equipment manufacturers, this standard sets good practices that can be reached through formal accreditations and putting environmental policies in place.

Choosing the Sustainable Option

With ever-increasing demands for performance and functionality, leading barcode and label printer manufacturers have developed their new products by introducing technology that is robust and simple to operate. Most importantly, these developments are enabling companies within the medical devices sector to improve both productivity and profitability, as well as enabling them to be fully compliant with the latest regulations, representing a considerable commitment to improving patient and consumer safety.

These machines not only include low energy and waste consumption, but also have in-built low maintenance that includes components designed for long life well above standard printer specifications. Patented Long Life Print (LLP) technology capability exists to extend print head life to at least double that of a normal machine, while components such as the auto cutter are now designed to give long lasting durability of up to two million cycles. In addition, models are now also available with convenient tool-free maintenance systems. These features of longer life capacity and minimum maintenance requirements effectively add up to a reduced dependency on consumption of regular replacement components, avoiding increased problems over disposal of components and machinery, as well as providing significant cost savings. In fact, printer manufacturers are striving to comply with schemes such as ENERGY STAR®, which offer even greater energy saving innovating features that do not compromise performance. These features include multi-power and paper settings that reduce receipt paper waste and energy consumption, the use of less harmful alternative materials (for example, halogen in the manufacture of the protective casing), and recyclable printer packaging.

Sustainable Culture

In today’s environmentally aware society, companies are expected to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. The environmental impact of pharmaceutical companies is coming under scrutiny. Carbon footprints are usually measured by the amount of greenhouse gases produced in units of carbon dioxide. Most large pharmaceutical organisations should have annual objectives and targets related to reducing their carbon footprint, and these are typically achieved by inflicting targets on each site to reduce their impact on the environment. These targets to reduce carbon footprints are encouraging equipment suppliers to come up with greener goods.

Setting Targets

A company’s sustainability policy requires leadership commitment by a policy implementation team that sets goals in reducing energy and resource use, while recycling wherever possible. As green accreditations look set to provide the benchmark for choosing sustainable products, companies will need to go further than just specifying energy saving products if they are to meet their targets and if the full environmental benefits are to be realised. In the bigger picture, we now face a shortage in resources and energy, while increased production of inefficient throwaway goods carries a greater pollution threat and a mounting disposal problem. Furthermore, through the selection of eco-friendly, energyefficient equipment, organisations will recover the cost of their investment through increased efficiency, reliability and durability within a reasonable payback period.

Amongst the more conscientious energy using equipment manufacturers, the spur is already there to set and achieve high targets. Through the implementation of a more holistic approach to the manufacturing processes that identify with the carbon footprint of the whole supply process, manufacturers’ operations can have a more positive impact on the environment. This provides manufacturers with the opportunity to market products as sustainable with enhanced specifications on reliability and performance in use, and finally recyclability.

As our demands for energy continue to grow year-on-year, can high energy users such as the pharmaceutical and medical industry really afford to ignore the economic and environmental benefits of a sustainable approach?

 


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Jörk Schüßler is European Marketing Manager for Citizen Systems Europe and responsible for their activities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has 20 years of experience within a sales environment, including sales and marketing in hardware, software, e-learning and TV. In this time, Jörk has held several senior management roles, including 10 years at Citizen, and is now set to develop Citizen’s support infrastructure for its range of distributors, valueadded resellers and end users, and as part of a wider long term company strategy. Email: joerk.schuessler@citizen-europe.com
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Jörk Schüßler
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