The BioPhorum industry consortium is working on a roadmap for making the biopharmaceutical industry more sustainable, according to Narendar Yeshwanth, PhD, vp for R&D and Innovation at Saint-Gobain Life Sciences. Yeshwanth hopes it will be published in mid-2024.

The main challenge for the companies collaborating on the roadmap is standardizing the way sustainability is assessed across the industry, points out Yeshwanth.

“The first order of business is ensuring we all speak a common language about sustainability, he tells GEN. Each company uses different approaches, ranging from life cycle analysis to a carbon footprint approach, and the key thing is bringing these into alignment.”

Benefits of a standardized approach

Benefits of a standardized approach include easier benchmarking of the sustainability of different processes, such as single-use systems or continuous bioprocessing.

“If people are looking to intensify their processes and reduce their footprint and you have a consistent method, then it’s easier to measure any improvement,” he explains.

The roadmap is focused on green energy, but also on other aspects of manufacturing sustainability, such as water consumption, plastics, and other forms of waste. Energy is a major contributor to the environmental footprint of biopharmaceutical manufacturing, continues Yeshwanth.

Industry groups within BioPhorum are investigating how to improve the efficiency of water use in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, and how to quantify to what degree plastics are going into waste. They are also attempting to innovate on how to decontaminate biologics-contaminated plastics before disposal, and how to design products to be disassembled after use for recycling.

Working groups are also looking into how to improve sustainability in packaging, including vials, expanded polystyrene anti-vibration packaging. and outer boxes. How to manage the cold chain for refrigerated products to improve sustainability is also under investigation.

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