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Global Environmental Sustainability

Delivering More Sustainable Products and Solutions

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t Johnson & Johnson, we create and manufacture products that people around the world rely on everyday—everything from life changing medicines and medical devices to contact lenses and surgical equipment. We are committed to delivering the highest quality products for patients, doctors and customers, while also working to improve our environmental footprint.

Our approach includes integrating sustainable design solutions into our product innovation processes, taking into account the environmental impacts throughout a product’s lifecycle—from design and formulation, through raw material sourcing and manufacturing, to packaging and delivery and product use and end-of-life.

Each of our business segments are taking action and driving improvements. Whether it’s making our packaging easier to recycle, supporting product take-back and recycling programs or integrating principles of green chemistry and technology into our pharmaceutical development process, we are committed to developing more sustainable products and solutions to support a healthier planet.

Closing the Loop on Medical Devices

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We work with partners on innovative solutions that improve the environmental footprint of the products we bring to the market, including the waste profile of products at end-of-life. For example, we know that about 30% of a hospital’s waste comes from their operating rooms, providing an important opportunity to advance more recycling and closed loop processes.

To help reduce medical waste, we are working with many leading hospitals in Europe to recycle disposable medical instruments designed for single use. The program allows hospitals to recycle metal and plastic components from Ethicon and Biosense Webster single use surgical instruments while digitally capturing and communicating the environmental impact of salvaging materials such as steel, titanium, aluminum, copper and chrome steel as well as a variety of plastics. It’s active in hospitals across several countries including Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, the UK and Austria.

Expanding our Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program

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To benefit our pharmaceutical patients, our Safe Returns® program for home-administered immunology products allows patients to return their devices in a convenient and sustainable paper envelope. The program is available in the U.S. and in Switzerland, with an aim to expand to additional countries and markets. In parallel, we are developing our capability to disassemble the collected devices from the Safe Returns® program to close the loop and reuse or recycle the materials and components, something that has not yet been fully achieved in the pharmaceutical industry.

Addressing Digital Health Waste

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The use of digital health devices is predicted to increase rapidly over the next five years, with expected annual global growth rates of almost 20% by 2027. This is great for patients, but it can leave an impact on our planet. Through the Digital Health in a Circular Economy (DiCE) collaborative, Janssen is partnering with 20 other organizations to address this challenge. Together, we are looking at every point in the lifecycle of digital health devices to identify opportunities to extend the use or responsibly dispose of these products. DiCE received co-funding through the European Union’s Horizon Europe program.

Improving the Footprint of Our Pharmaceuticals

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Janssen continues to integrate principles of green chemistry and technology into the development of our medicines. For example, our R&D team recently collaborated with a supplier to create a more efficient chemistry process to develop an ingredient in a treatment for major depressive disorder, which reduced raw materials consumption by close to half.

Integrating Sustainable Packaging 

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We are looking at new ways to reduce packaging materials and make our packaging easier for our patients and customers to recycle, while also maintaining the quality, safety and integrity of our products.

For example, the plastic trays used in Janssen’s TREMFYA® line of medicine were replaced with a Pulp Injection Molding (PIM) tray across all markets. The use of this material is a significant breakthrough in pharmaceutical packaging, particularly since PIM trays can be disposed of through regular cardboard recycling waste streams, available in most countries.

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In our J&J MedTech sector, DePuy Synthes replaced the virgin paperboard used in select SYNFIX® Evolution brand packaging to primarily post-consumer recycled paperboard (PCR). The new packaging went through extensive testing to confirm that it stands up to our stringent standards for sterility and structural integrity.

In 2022, Ethicon entered into an agreement with Eastman, to purchase Eastman’s Eastar™ Renew 6763 copolyester for its medical device trays. By purchasing Eastman’s Eastar Renew 6763 copolyster, Ethicon is able to attribute a portion of the materials that Eastman collects for recycling, to our Ethicon Endo Mechanical medical device trays. With each tray, Ethicon offsets virgin plastic used to make the tray, helping to divert waste from landfills and advancing new technology solutions, such as Eastman’s molecular recycling technology.

Caring for Our Patients and the Planet

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Through a partnership with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) Sustainable Development Unit and the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, we helped to create world-first guidance on how to measure the carbon footprint of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and then shared the data and methodology for others to use.

Most often the environmental footprint associated with medical care comes from the full patient experience—from consultations with doctors, to time in the operating room, to post-operative recovery. This entire journey is called the patient care pathway, and we realized that if we could better understand it, we would be better equipped to help reduce the carbon footprint associated with our value chain. With The Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, we produced a case study to show that focusing on the entire care pathway can greatly reduce both the environmental impact and the cost of a patient’s care, while improving a patient’s overall experience.

Our Partnerships and Commitments for Sustainable Products and Solutions

Johnson & Johnson is a founding member of the following organizations:

  • The Sustainable Healthcare Coalition is a healthcare sector led group looking for the greatest opportunities to inspire sustainable practices in healthcare through the collaboration of its members.  
  • The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council is working to advance plastics recyclability in healthcare. 
  • The American Chemistry Society’s (ACS) Green Chemistry Institute’s Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) is dedicated to catalyzing the integration of green chemistry and engineering in the pharmaceutical industry.

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