Over recent decades, the heightened awareness of sustainability issues among consumers, combined with the prevalence of corporate social responsibility and an increase in regulatory standards, has put pressure on the clinical trial and pharmaceutical industry to reduce the environmental impact of its activities. The potential benefits from creating a greener clinical supply chain includes an enhanced brand reputation and operational cost savings as a result of less waste and energy use. At Bay Area Research Logistics, we use Crēdo containers, which is a reusable cold chain packaging solution, cardboard recycling, reusable temperature monitors, and follow proper and safe drug destruction protocols to lessen our carbon footprint, reduce waste, and decrease costs. Here are three key strategies that can help decrease the environmental impact of clinical trial supply chains:
- Packaging and Labeling: Changing the way clinical supplies are packaged can directly improve the sustainability of clinical trial supply chains. By using lighter, biodegradable material it is possible to reduce waste and acquire better freight prices. Additionally, moving towards more robust primary packaging designs, such as blister packs, provides an opportunity to eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging – meeting the demands for sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Finally, smart packaging and digitization are emerging trends in the industry that play an important role in the development of a greener supply chain. Digital labels are able to facilitate the distribution of large amounts of information in easy-to-read formats that can be electronically and remotely updated. This drastically lessens the amount of material used, allowing for companies to cut down on waste as well as eliminate costs incurred from repackaging and reprinting.
- Embracing Technology and Automation: Technology and automation can be a powerful tool for clinical trial logistics organizations that are planning a green overhaul of their supply chains. Automated packaging and labeling procedures, as well as implementing an electronic management system (EMS) can significantly impact a firm’s carbon footprint and provide cost benefits in the long run. Automation can drive efficiencies throughout the supply chain and immediately and visibly result in a reduction of waste. Additionally, an EMS can efficiently and transparently track inventory, therefore decreasing waste and paper usage that results from overproduction. Moreover, serialization, a technique used to track-and-trace and provide authentication measures that guard against counterfeits, can indirectly add to the overall sustainability of a supply chain. Serialization provides insight and visibility into the location and eventual distribution of clinical supplies, allowing for an accurate inventory count, which decreases the risk of overproduction and therefore elements such as material and energy usage.
- Outsourcing and On-demand Distribution: On-demand distribution is a flexible clinical supply chain and distribution model that allows for companies to prepare medication only as needed, and will eliminate nearly both rework and unplanned expenses due to drug wastage from overproduction. Businesses who do not have the internal expertise or resources to establish a plan for change should consider outsourcing their clinical trial logistical needs to firms with a wealth of skills and experiences that are capable of trimming waste and embedding efficiency into the supply chain.
Bay Area Research Logistics embraces environmentally friendly solutions while still maintaining rapid turnaround times and proper delivery of clinical trial supplies. Furthermore, Bay Area Research Logistics is enrolled in the Ecovadis CSR (corporate social responsibility) programme, which allows us to identify potential opportunities in our company that will improve our processes and to remind us of the legal, social and environmental responsibilities we have. We take a thorough approach when it comes to understanding and managing our environmental impact across the supply chain and the product life cycle, and are committed to supporting the advancement of clinical trials in a sustainably, socially, and financially responsible way.