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The Consumer Driven Path to Circularity through Future Pharmaceutical Packaging

In an age where sustainability has taken centre stage on the global agenda, industries are reimagining the way they operate in order to align with sustainability principles and the application of increased circularity practices. Across all industries, the call for environmentally sustainable products and responsible practices has initiated a transformation that touches every aspect of consumer behaviour and the companies that serve them. Drug delivery technology and pharmaceutical device manufacturers face a more challenging task. Their task is to find a way to achieve the intricate balancing act to be found between manufacturing capabilities, the consumer drive for enhanced sustainability, and meeting the stringent regulatory requirements that govern the pharmaceutical industry.

Demands for Circularity in the Pharma Space

Sustainability has become a major focus for companies across many industries around the world. In part, this is due to increasing consumer demand for more sustainability, including circularity and recyclability, in the products they select. Consumers interact directly with packaging systems from every industry, in their day-to-day lives. For most, a plastic drug dispensing device is not thought of much differently with respect to recycling and circularity than many common plastic consumer or cosmetic products. Both are predominantly made of plastic, both protect the product stored inside and when the consumer finishes with them, both need to be disposed of in a responsible way. One major difference, however, is that the pharmaceutical product is subject to different regulations and performance requirements because of the criticality of its role in patient health. At the end of the day, consumers are increasingly expecting enhanced sustainability through circular and recyclable products. A recent Innova Market Insights survey found that consumer behaviour was the biggest contributor to plastic pollution.1 Therefore, one of the goals of the pharmaceutical packaging industry must be to find practical but safe solutions that allow the consumer to easily recycle product packaging. This would directly contribute to circularity and help reduce plastic pollution. One of the most pressing questions for the pharmaceutical packaging industry has become, how can it design products that deliver more circularity while also maintaining product performance and compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.