Sustainability Action across the Pharmaceutical Industry

Environmental sustainability is a priority for the pharmaceutical industry in Australia. Many Medicines Australia member companies are taking proactive action to reduce waste, limit carbon emissions, and increase sustainability across supply chains and other areas of operation.

As the peak industry body for pharmaceutical companies in Australia, Medicines Australia established the Medicines Australia Medical Sustainability Group (MAMSG) in June 2023.

Through MAMSG, the pharmaceutical industry is working collaboratively with the Federal Government to support sustainability priorities related to materials used in product packaging, recycling opportunities and emissions reduction.

In its inaugural year, the MAMSG commenced industry and Government engagement through activities including:

  • Met with Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ged Kearney MP who provided insights into the Government’s health and sustainability agenda.
  • Developed a submission to the Department of Health and Aged Care’s National Health and Climate Strategy Consultation Paper.
  • There are increasing signs that the Government is looking to further contain spending for medicines.
  • Welcomed the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water who presented to MAMSG members regarding the Government’s upcoming packaging reform legislative agenda.
  • Ratified 10 Principles for Packaging Reform in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
  • Undertook an educational visit to PharmaCycle in Silverwater, Sydney to gain insights into emerging recycling challenges and opportunities in Australia.

    The industry’s approach to circularity builds on its significant support of environmental sustainability whilst recognising the constraints of operating in a highly regulated industry where patient safety and product efficacy are paramount.

    The pharmaceutical industry recognises improved partnerships are needed between all levels of government and pathways for recycling.

    Carbon Emission Reduction

    To reduce scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions, many pharmaceutical companies are adopting approaches combining direct emissions reduction and energy efficiency with decarbonising energy supplies.

    This includes global initiatives that promote renewable energy while reducing and optimising energy consumption, designing new factories with low environmental footprints, and engaging employees in local action around the world.

    Best practice examples from Medicines Australia members include action as part of the RE100 initiative with public commitments to source 100% renewable electricity across all operations by 2030, investments in large-scale solar farms at research and development and manufacturing sites, and the implementation of eco-fleets with investments in biofuel, hybrid and electric vehicles.

    Many companies are working with global partners to develop and implement robust methodologies to identify and reduce scope 3 emissions, which remains a complex area for all industries.

    ENERGIZE Program

    In 2021, several global pharmaceutical companies launched the ENERGIZE program to help global pharmaceutical supply chains adopt 100% renewable electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    This first-of-its-kind industry program enables pharmaceutical suppliers to learn more about renewable energy adoption and contracting. It allows suppliers who may not otherwise have the internal resources or expertise to participate in the market for power purchase agreements (PPAs).


    Six Medicines Australia members – AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sanofi – are Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) suppliers and have joined with Manufacture 2030 to deliver ‘Activate’ – an innovative new program to accelerate the decarbonisation of shared Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) supply chains. APIs, an essential constituent in medicines and vaccines that produce the intended health effects, can be resource-intensive to manufacture due to material use, energy-demanding processes and waste recovery.

    The program, which begins with onboarding API suppliers, capturing footprint data, establishing a reference point baseline, and tackling the most prominent areas of environmental impact, supports the decarbonisation of a critical segment of the pharmaceutical value chain through measurement, provision of practical tools, expert advice, and access to green financing.

    In 2024, the MAMSG will work with partners and stakeholders to progress several intended priority areas, including emissions reduction, waste reduction, sustainability of supply chains, and supporting the Australian Government in achieving its targets under the Paris Agreement.

    Through the MAMSG, Medicines Australia and our members look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government and other healthcare and supply chain stakeholders.

    For more information please contact