We know from our lifecycle assessments (LCAs) of products that they can continue to have impacts after our customer or patient uses them. Whether the product is washed off, metabolized and excreted, or used and discarded along with the packaging, these actions can all have environmental impacts. Johnson & Johnson has had a long history of conducting LCAs to ensure that we better understand and control the impacts from our product and packaging end of life.
We have a diverse portfolio of products and services that have unique impacts at end of life. Therefore, we assess the end of life impacts of our products and develop category-specific action plans to improve performance over time. When necessary, we also supplement this approach with product-specific lifecycle assessments and other scientific studies (e.g., Environmental Risk Assessments) to refine the action plans. For more information about our management approach, see EHS&S Governance.
Personal Care Products in the Environment
To better understand how our formulations interact with aquatic environments after they are rinsed off the body we continue to use a tool we developed called the Global Aquatic Ingredient Assessment™ (GAIA) protocol. Using GAIA, we can score the potential environmental impacts of our ingredients and our products on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 having the least amount of environmental impact. For products with lower scores, we explore the opportunities for improving the formulation to reduce any potential impact on aquatic life. For more information, see our Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment statement.
Packaging and Recycling
Our packaging efforts are two-pronged -- to increase the recyclability of our packaging, and to reduce the amount of packaging we use. We established a Health for Humanity 2020 Goal seeking to increase the recyclability of our Consumer segment product packaging. And, in less mature markets, we are engaging in partnerships to advance material recovery and recycling efforts. See our Health for Humanity 2020 Goals Progress Scorecard for more information. To assist us in our efforts to reduce the impacts of our packaging, our EARTHWARDS® process includes packaging as one of the targeted areas for improvement.
We continue to help increase consumer recycling of personal care products through our CARE TO RECYCLE® program, which aims to increase consumer awareness of the recyclability of personal care product packaging, and ultimately increase recycling of those items. In addition, in the United States, we continue to support the Closed Loop Fund, a social impact fund dedicated to improving recycling infrastructure and increasing the recycling of products and packaging.
Pharmaceutical (Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications)
Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
Pharmaceutical residues in the environment are found in water bodies and some soils and sediments, primarily as the result of excretion of medicines by humans and livestock. Some pharmaceuticals survive conventional industrial and municipal wastewater treatment processes; because of this, regulations to limit levels of pharmaceuticals in water are being considered in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world. For more information on how we approach this topic, see our Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment statement.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), an adaptation by which bacteria and microbes become resistant to regularly used drugs, is a growing concern. AMR makes common yet life-threatening infections difficult or even impossible to treat. Overuse of antibiotics, or using them in ways different from those prescribed, contributes to growth of resistant bacteria, which renders drugs to treat many infections less effective. We are active in addressing this growing challenge.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Johnson & Johnson complies with Extended Producer Responsibility regulations where they exist around the world, and invests in education programs, important partnerships and other sustainability initiatives, as detailed below, to advance better management of our medical devices products at end of life.
Johnson & Johnson supports and actively participates in many voluntary takeback programs, and we work with our customers to evaluate opportunities to increase the number and quantity of products that can be recycled and reprocessed. For example, in our Sterilmed, Inc., business, medical devices typically bound for landfills or incineration are collected from surgical suites, reprocessed, and returned. In addition, Johnson & Johnson is a founding member of the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, which works with hospitals and other care providers to identify plastics waste streams that are typically disposed of but could be diverted for recycling. We also work with customers to recover electronic durable devices and recycle them after their useful life.
To protect patients, health care practitioners, and waste handlers from sharps injuries, we have committed to designing our self-injected health care products and lancets with safety features that minimize the chance of a needle stick following use of the device.
In 2016, we determined the baseline recyclability percentage of North America Consumer packaging and identified opportunities for improvements to achieve our 2020 recyclability goal. In addition, our CARE TO RECYCLE® program’s spring activation garnered more than 100 million media impressions, including first-ever TV and retail integrations in efforts to drive consumers’ recycling behavior.
Johnson & Johnson joined a coalition of partners as a signatory to the Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) Roadmap, which outlines key commitments that pharmaceutical companies pledge to deliver by 2020 to reduce AMR. The commitments follow the principles identified and agreed upon in the Industry Declaration made at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos. The Declaration outlined for the first time how industry and governments can work together to support sustained innovation to address the growing problem of AMR.
In 2016, Johnson & Johnson conducted a review of active pharmaceutical ingredient suppliers to identify antibiotics suppliers and conduct initial risk assessments to determine: how these suppliers treat their wastewater; where they discharge their effluent; and whether mass-balance calculations indicate there is a potential risk associated with wastewater discharges that needs further investigation. We will continue to work with our AMR Roadmap partners to develop science-based discharge limits specifically for antibiotics that can be applied to internal and external manufacturing sites and are protective against formation of resistance.
On the issue of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, we initiated updates to our Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment statement to address recent developments. We also continued working with the Temple University Water and Environmental Technology Center through a National Science Foundation grant program called the I/UCRC that is intended to drive collaboration between government, academia and industry to advance scientific efforts and translate science into commercial value. Through this collaboration, we published for the first time ecotoxicity data for pharmaceutical compounds to increase transparency. We also continue to develop new scientific information to evaluate mixtures of endocrine active compounds in water, share our wastewater effluent maturity ladder with the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain initiative, and educate our suppliers on good environmental practices.
In 2016, we continued our efforts to collect and reprocess medical devices, and to collect electronic devices for recycling. Results are shown in the table below.
1 Currently, electronic takeback data is tracked for our Medical Devices business segment in the United States only. We collect and reprocess medical devices (both our own and those manufactured by others) through our takeback efforts, which are then reprocessed and sold by our Sterilmed, Inc. business.