Takeda takes on the health of the planet

By William Girling
The largest pharmaceutical company in Asia, Takeda, has announced its commitment to fighting climate change with eco-conscious pledges for the new year...

The largest pharmaceutical company in Asia, Takeda, has announced its commitment to fighting climate change with eco-conscious pledges for the new year.

The Japanese giant employs almost 50,000 people worldwide and achieved revenues of US$19.3bn in 2018, meaning any lead it takes on eco-streamlining operations will likely impact and influence the rest of the industry. With a clear goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality across its entire value chain by 2040, Takeda is driving home the change it sees as vitally important.

Dedication to change

Having met its previous target of reducing CO2 emissions by 33.7% by 2020, Takeda is confident that its new goals can be achieved. “Last year was an important and successful year for Takeda as we accelerated our transformation to become a leading global biopharmaceutical company,” said Christophe Weber, President and CEO. “We also recognise that supporting our patients means we must commit to work on behalf of the broader global community – and one way to do this is by accelerating our environmental efforts.”

The focus for Takeda is to not just improve its own way of working, but to assist its suppliers and partner companies too. This is a crucial part of the company’s philosophy: helping the wider community, such as with the Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program, which has committed over US$100mn to organisations dedicated to improving global health.


Challenges for the industry

An article by Carbon Trust identified several walls the pharmaceutical industry is struggling to get over regarding climate change, most of them relating to procurement and development.

Product development: Pharmaceutical products undergo significantly stringent R&D stages for new products. This gives companies less leeway to overhaul simple aspects of the production sequence, as could be done in the retail sector, for instance. 

Logistics: How a company decides to transport its product can make an important difference. Between 2010 and 2018, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi was able to reduce emissions by 20% by switching from air-freight to sea-freight. Measuring the difference to be 30 times less polluting, Sandrine Bouttier-Stref, Global Head of Health, Safety and Environment, told the Financial Times that the change had saved “260,000 tonnes of carbon a year”.

Collaboration: Whilst a business should do all it can to act more sustainably, a key responsibility should be to encourage its suppliers and partners to do so too. Processes used to extract raw chemicals for use in medications, for example, should be as clean as possible, with industry leaders putting their weight behind clearly defined goals and expectations. 2019 saw the 2nd Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference held in Berlin. This gave the chance for companies such as Dow, DuPont, Merck and Covestro to debate how the industry should best tackle the issue of climate change.


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