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Environmental Impact of Products
The journey to understand and reduce these impacts is core to environmental stewardship. We use an array of Design for the Environment tools, including the Earthwards® life-cycle process.
We are on a continual pursuit of ingredients that improve our products and reduce their environmental impacts. In 2009, we launched GAIA, a product formulation tool that measures the environmental impact potential of ingredients in new formulations. The tool was collaboratively developed collaboratively with outside experts and has been reviewed with a wide range of stakeholders, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The GAIA tool allows our formulators to include environmental performance as a criterion when selecting ingredients in new product development by creating environmental “scores” for many of the most commonly used ingredients. Based on similar systems, such as the U.S. EPA’s Design for Environment program and the REACH program in the European Union, this tool helps us create products with fewer environmental impacts and measure and track our progress overall.
Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
Very low quantities of ingredients found in pharmaceuticals reach the environment in trace levels. Some people are concerned that these trace levels might present a risk to the health of people or aquatic organisms. A substantial body of peer-reviewed research studies suggests impacts to people are unlikely.
Johnson & Johnson supports further scientific study to better understand the impact of trace amounts of pharmaceutical and other compounds on the environment. We are actively engaged on this issue both on our own and in cooperation with academia, industry and government.
There are three main pathways by which pharmaceutical ingredients can reach the environment. The vast majority of pharmaceutical and other compounds found in water systems are a result of normal patient and consumer use and excretion into sewer and wastewater treatment systems. A second pathway is through consumer disposal of unused or expired medicines. Johnson & Johnson supports the U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for the Proper Disposal of Prescription Pharmaceuticals. This policy suggests a combined disposal approach is best, including take-back programs when they are available, trash disposal for most medicines, and flushing for some specific pharmaceuticals, such as narcotics. Johnson & Johnson also is participating in an educational effort, called SMARxT Disposal , which is led by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association to inform consumers about proper disposal of unused or expired medicines.
The third pathway is through wastewater from manufacturing sites. We are committed to reducing or eliminating the small amounts of active pharmaceutical ingredients discharged in the wastewater from our manufacturing sites. We monitor our pharmaceutical manufacturing wastewaters for potential toxicity to aquatic species (using whole effluent testing). Where no specific regulatory limits exist, we establish limits for wastewater toxicity.