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Making our packaging ‘greener’

Picture of Marc Van Meldert, Health, Safety and Environment
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Marc Van Meldert, Health, Safety and Environment
UCB aims to make every element of our business as green as possible. That is why we are rethinking our approach to packaging.

Until recently, our efforts were focused on being compliant with regulations and improving the user experience. We are now shifting our approach, giving greater importance to sustainable design and materials.

UCB recognises that improving our product packaging, through collaboration with patients and users, presents an opportunity to enhance the sustainability of our operations. Packaging design is an important part of delivering value to patients while reducing our products’ environmental footprint.

Listening to public feedback on our products, including their packaging, is a central part of our commitment to improve what we do. The message we hear is that the production, transport and packaging of our products should minimise the use of plastics and maximise recyclability.

We are rising to the challenge of creating packaging that is greener, compliant with on-pack labelling requirements, includes measures to combat counterfeit drugs, meet cost constraints, and fulfils the need to make an emotional connection with patients, while enhancing patient compliance. This is a work in progress and we are committed to getting it right.
Greener by design
Along with improving the user experience, this collaborative approach is helping us to make packaging more environmentally friendly. We are prioritising the use of recyclable materials, responsible sourcing, resource recovery (recycling), efficient transport and distribution.

For example, by reducing the pack size while maintaining the same amount of medicines we can use less material and transport more products on each pallet. Reducing the weight of packaging also translates into lower use of fuel in transport.

In collaboration with patients and design experts, we have reduced the plastic content of the packaging on some of our leading medicines by as much as 85% and reduced the carboard content by 41%. By using recyclable materials and ensuring the packaging components can be segregated for recycling, we are applying the best in design thinking to optimise our packaging.

Collaborative design 
As some of our products are self-administered by patients with severe conditions – such as rheumatoid arthritis or Parkinson’s disease – the distinct needs of the user must be considered carefully.

For example, our new auto-click prefilled pen, used to deliver rheumatoid arthritis medication in Japan, was developed based on market research and input from users. Research showed us that ease of drug administration was a key concern for users and that patients in Japan valued simple, crisp packaging design.

By consulting patients and patient representatives, we will collaboratively develop best-in-class package designs that meet the needs of users while removing inefficiencies.

UCB continues to make sustainability and usability key priorities in the design of our products and packaging.  By making sustainability a design priority, we will further reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment.

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