A More Sustainable Package
A new award showcases innovation in sustainable pharma packaging
Stephanie Sutton | | 4 min read | News
Easyfairs and YewMaker are launching the Sustainable Packaging Awards for September’s Connect in Pharma event. The closing date for applications is August 1, 2022 – so if you’re interested, you need to move fast! The grand winners will be announced at a champagne ceremony at Connect in Pharma in Geneva on September 14.
There are two award categories for medicine or medical device packaging: the Design Award and the Circularity Award. The Design Award focuses on sustainable packaging design, such as materials, constituents, size, or shape – and how the design can reduce waste and increase sustainability. The Circularity Award focuses on packaging services, processes, partnerships, or other products that reduce single-use packaging. Gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded in each category.
Shazia Mahamdallie, Chief Scientific Officer at YewMaker, says, “To help reduce waste and increase sustainability, a pharma company might redesign materials, changing to alternative products that can be recycled – or change the size or shape of packaging so fewer natural resources are used. This type of innovation is what we want to capture in the Design Award. But there are some packaging materials that have great functional benefits and can’t be changed so easily. This can lead to a lot of high-quality single-use packaging, which provides an opportunity to innovate in packaging services and processes by, for example, reusing packaging. If we can’t change the design, what can we change to keep packaging out of landfill? The Circularity Award will showcase new practices in the packaging supply chain.”
To enter, companies must complete a short form (available here) and provide a link to a one-page PDF describing their innovation. If applicants wish, they can also provide a link to a short video.
“Because we are focusing on sustainable packaging innovations, we would like to see entries that showcase their sustainability benefits. YewMaker is a science-based organization, so we encourage entries that provide supporting evidence behind their sustainable innovation,” says Mahamdallie. “We all have the responsibility and opportunity to change healthcare for the better. Bringing more innovation to the packaging of medicines and medical devices is an important step in the right direction. I am so excited to see the entries and cannot wait to have a ‘wow moment’ and say, ‘That’s a game-changing idea; why didn’t someone think of that earlier?’”
Find out more about the awards here.
Why is the topic of sustainability finally gaining traction in the pharma industry?
Just as packaging is one of the unsung heroes in the story of global access to medicines, so are those working to make the pharmaceutical industry more sustainable. The manufacturing process of chemicals can consume high amounts of energy and contribute to carbon dioxide emissions. First recognized in the 1990s, this motivated Paul Anastas and John Warner to publish their theory and practice of green chemistry. The pharmaceutical industry responded to this and established working and scientific groups to bring green chemistry principles into medicines manufacturing processes. There are nearly two decades of high-quality science research and development in the industry focused on environmental sustainability.
Today, I think all industries are making moves toward prioritizing sustainability, pharma included, because it’s becoming imperative to business and important for the consumer.
What are the biggest challenges in making pharmaceutical packaging more sustainable?
By its nature, pharma is an innovative industry. This inventive spirit includes medicine packaging, logistics, and distribution.
The medicines supply chain is complex and packaging passes through many hands between manufacture and disposal. This makes scalable sustainability changes challenging. For true sustainability, we must see linked innovations across the whole supply chain – so a key challenge is forming partnerships across the packaging journey to maximize opportunities for waste reduction.
What types of innovations would you like to see?
We hope to see diverse innovations. We would be thrilled to see moves toward reducing the environmental impact of medicine or medical device packaging in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.
At YewMaker, we are always searching for bright spots that can be shared and scaled. It would be great to see innovations that could also be applied to other parts of healthcare or to other industries.