Sustainable Industry

Pharmaceutical laboratory aims at responsible use of resources

Brazil’s Aché spent BRL 4.4 million in sustainability actions in 2020

In order to preserve the environment and safeguard public health, the pharmaceutical industry has been placing its stakes on solutions that minimize the impacts of drug production. The sustainable development of drugs helps not only to improve medical care, but also to provide better quality of life for patients in various fronts – from health promotion to nature conservation.

Brazil’s Aché Laboratórios Farmacêuticos – or Aché for short –, is actively seeking alternative solutions that either minimize or neutralize the impacts and effects of its operations. The company’s initiatives are in line with the strategy of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) towards a low-carbon economy in Brazil based on four pillars: energy transition, carbon market, circular economy, and forest conservation.

Aché has been in the pharmaceutical industry for 55 years and has five industrial plants located in São Paulo (SP), Guarulhos (SP), Anápolis (GO), Londrina (PR) and Cabo de Santo Agostinho (PE). It also has an equity interest in biotech company Bionovis, whose plant is currently under construction in the town of Valinhos (SP).

According to Sergio Piza, Head of Workforce, Sustainability and Communications, responsible use of resources – especially non-renewable resources – is a major concern at Aché.

“Since our goal of improving lives is directly associated with the goal of creating more life for the planet, we adopt a social and environmental responsibility approach to our operations. We invest in a culture that encourages associates to seek solutions that minimize or neutralize the impact of our operations and help preserve the environment. We wholeheartedly embrace emerging innovations in sustainability since this is the only way we can have solid and responsible development that takes into account social and environmental aspects,” says Piza.

Investments – In 2020, Aché spent BRL 4.4 million in sustainability actions. Initiatives include the introduction of technologies that have helped reduce electricity consumption by 25%, a reduction in total energy consumption at the plants in Guarulhos and São Paulo by 11.2%, in addition to using timber from reforested areas to produce drug packages and inserts.

To reduce electricity consumption, Aché purchased high-performance equipment for the Cold Water Generation Center at the Guarulhos plant, which became operational in 2019. As a result, it reduced electricity consumption for the generation of chilled water by 25%. A photovoltaic system for solar energy generation has also been deployed at the plant in Pernambuco. As a result of these initiatives in 2020, there was an 11.2% reduction in total energy consumption compared to 2019.

Reducing water consumption is also on the radar. In 2020, Aché’s water consumption reached 0.189 Ml, of which 0.09 Ml came from reuse water from production processes and rainwater. Reuse water goes to air conditioning cooling and gardening processes, for instance.

Packaging – Aché provides guidance to consumers on the proper disposal of drugs and packaging on its inserts, corporate website and the Consumer Service Center (CAC). Also with regard to packaging, Aché uses non-toxic paints and varnishes and cellulose from reforested areas, which are not in direct contact with the product.

Whenever possible, Aché purchases packaging made from sugarcane bagasse. In 2020, 262 million drug packages and 269 million package inserts from reforested wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) were purchased. In relation to product transportation crates, 5.6 million come from certified reforested areas and 697,000 from sugarcane bagasse.

“Proper drug disposal is a major issue in the pharmaceutical industry, both in terms of public health and the environment. Our commitment to the entire packaging and product chain – from manufacturing to waste disposal – reinforces our full consideration to the health of the soil, water, air and people. We run serious consumer awareness campaigns regarding proper drug disposal and at the internal level we ensure that these products are produced according to strict safety standards. We are constantly enhancing our processes in order to reduce or eliminate the use of materials that do not come from renewable sources,” says Sergio Piza.

In 2020, there were 2,211.9 tons of non-hazardous waste, of which 83.7% were recycled. With regard to hazardous waste, 1,099.0 tons were properly disposed of, whether for incineration, energy recovery, effluent treatment, storage or recycling.