The Climate is Changing

The climate is changing before our eyes – winters are getting warmer and wetter, summers are becoming hotter and drier, and heavy rainfall is more likely. Around the world, glaciers are melting, catastrophic floods are becoming more frequent, and rising sea levels are putting coastal people’s homes and farmland at risk.

Net zero – reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to as close to zero as possible and reabsorbing any remaining emissions from the atmosphere – is becoming increasingly important as a way to limit the worst aspects of climate change that threaten the world today. The UK Government has pledged net zero by 2050, but it needs more than just political will to make changes.

Here at Pharmaxo, we’re going above and beyond by committing to beat the UK’s pledge by five years, achieving net zero emissions by 2045.

Matt Cooper Pharmaxo

Environment, Health and Safety Manager

While the move towards net zero for companies in the UK is driven by legislation, it has a greater importance for Pharmaxo.

“One of our founders, Chris Watt, is an avid campaigner for sustainability. His values are part of the company’s tenets. It’s all part of doing the right thing for patients and has always been on our agenda,” said Matt Cooper, Environment, Health and Safety Manager, Pharmaxo Group.

“While we are driven by legislation, we are also keen to be recognised as a good organisation, and to meet our customers’ and patients’ needs. This is why we look to go above and beyond the government’s requirements.”

Net Zero Goals

Pharmaxo’s core business is the production and administration of life-changing medicines for patients that alleviate the effects of disease. The majority of these patients have cancer. Climate change is a major contributor to cancer, through increased exposure to sunlight, as well as the toxins and carcinogens in air pollution.

We are aligning our net zero goals with those of the NHS, our biggest customer, which aims to get to net zero by 2040 for emissions it controls directly, and 2045 for emissions it can influence.

Another driver is for future recruitment. It is ever more evident that the choice of a future employer, especially for young people, will be based on more than just the job that is being offered, and the credibility and sustainability of a company will be at the forefront.

Pharmaxo’s emission reduction plan

The plan began with the creation of a baseline emissions footprint for 2022, providing a reference point for future work.

Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three scopes:

  • Scope 1 emissions – direct emissions from owned or controlled sources
  • Scope 2 emissions – indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy
  • Scope 3 emissions – all indirect emissions not included in scope 2

Pharmaxo’s scope 3 emissions include:

  • Upstream transportation & distribution
  • Waste generated in operations
  • Business travel
  • Employee commuting
  • Downstream transportation & distribution

Carbon Reduction

“Creating the 2022 carbon footprint was very complex. We already had the downstream logistics figures but looking at the upstream figures – how things arrive – was new to us. Now we have the baseline, we can look at what we need to change, and this is more challenging than just changing the lighting,” said Matt.

The next step was to create the plan and break it down into stages, putting in goals and deadlines. The emission reduction plan, which uses a glide path model, includes gradual annual reductions with bigger step changes every five years, adding up to 20% reduction every five years.

The first five-year plan projects a 20% reduction for 2027, with a decrease to 3,506 tCO2e for Bath ASU and to 3,771 tCO2e for Pharmaxo Pharmacy Services.

Large trading companies in the UK have to carry out an energy audit at least once every four years under the terms of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the UK implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

“This audit report allows us to identify where we can take actions, for example the air handling systems, and gives us an action plan that we can present to the board of directors,” said Matt.

What Pharmaxo has achieved so far

“It’s still early days but we have been able to make some changes already. We have looked at our hot water systems and changed to air source heat pumps. We have also added electric vehicles to our car fleet and put charging points across the site. We are looking at providing more efficient cars for our nursing staff too,” said Matt.

Commuting and business travel has an impact on the carbon footprint, from travelling to and from work, to heading out from work for a meal or a snack during the day. Pharmaxo is looking at priority parking for car sharers.

The company already has a canteen on site that provides free breakfast and free fruit and drinks to cut down on travel across the working day.

“We aim for changes that are positive rather than punitive,” said Matt.

The next steps

Points that have been highlighted as potential actions include: engaging with suppliers to put carbon reduction on their agenda and reporting what they are doing; putting in place detailed energy monitoring to track the efficiency of the equipment; looking at the waste stream and choices of waste provider; and finding out whether renewable energy schemes can be put in place, though this may be limited because some of the company’s buildings are rented.

“We will start by engaging with our first-tier suppliers to see what they can do and when they can do it by, and then we will work our way through all of our suppliers. This could involve changes as simple as delivery on alternate days rather than every day. We are due to report on our energy savings scheme, both internally and to the NHS, in December 2023,” said Matt.

“Getting to net zero by 2045 is a really big challenge, and we will need to be innovative and courageous. We need to become sustainable, and this is in all of our interests,” Matt concluded.