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Owen Mumford

Supporting Pharma Partners to Reduce Scope 3 Emissions

Analyses of the pharmaceutical industry’s carbon footprint often cite the same study, which found that the sector’s emissions are 55 percent greater than the automotive sector.1 Later studies point out that scope 3 emissions of the two industries – i.e., indirect emissions occurring in the supply chain – were not included in the comparison,2 most likely due to the additional complexity this would add. Yet this category often accounts for more than 70% of a business’ carbon footprint.3 Indeed, among the top twenty pharmaceutical companies, it is estimated that scope 3 emissions are the largest share of emissions, though reporting is varied and sometimes incomplete.4

Scope 3: The Next Challenge

Pharmaceutical companies are making good progress with scope 1 (direct, in-house emissions) and scope 2 (emissions from purchased energy) emissions. The above review of the twenty largest pharmaceutical companies concludes that nineteen companies have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ten to carbon neutrality and eight to net zero emissions between 2025 and 2050.5 The study notes that “Strategies to reduce emissions included optimising manufacturing and distribution, and responsible sourcing of energy, water, and raw materials.” This correlates with Owen Mumford’s own analysis of leading pharmaceutical companies; we found that the most mature areas where hard targets have been publicly set are energy, water, waste and air emissions.6

However, as in other industries, scope 3 is proving more difficult to address.7 Future targets are likely to have a greater focus on this area, and this is essential to meet ambitious targets set by healthcare providers. For instance, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which contributes around 4–5% of total UK carbon emissions,8 is aiming for net zero by 2040 for emissions controlled directly by the service, and net zero by 2045 for emissions it can influence.9 In the US, where the healthcare sector accounts for 8.5% of emissions, the Health Sector Climate Pledge commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.10

Owen Mumford’s Sustainability Initiatives

As a business with its own scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and as a supplier (and source of scope 3 emissions) to pharmaceutical companies through the Pharmaceutical Services division, we at Owen Mumford have been well aware of our responsibilities for some time. We were quick to recognise that we needed to dedicate time and effort to reducing our footprint as a matter of urgency and that it should not be done by halves. There is both a social and commercial imperative – as outlined above – which made this investment a necessity.