We are committed to developing more sustainable products that use fewer and more sustainable resources to support the health of people and our planet. We examine product environmental impacts across product categories and platforms. We also examine impacts across all stages of the product lifecycle, including design, development, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, use and end of life. We then focus on the product categories, platforms and lifecycle areas with the highest potential impact and prioritize improvements that can be implemented across multiple products to enable the greatest possible improvements.
Our R&D teams continue to integrate principles of green chemistry and engineering to develop our medicines. In 2021, for example, for application in our late-stage product portfolio, we achieved process intensification and highly efficient processes via biocatalysis and organocatalysis. Biocatalysis and organocatalysis enable a reduction in the use of organic solvents and generate lower levels of organic waste, resulting in fewer GHG GHG Greenhouse gas or gasses emissions. In 2021, this new green chemistry process was introduced at selected Johnson & Johnson sites. We also collaborate widely with our suppliers to identify and evaluate green chemistry options across many manufacturing processes.
Sustainable Packaging & Recycling
Packaging plays a critical role in maintaining the quality, safety and integrity of our products throughout our value chain. We comply with applicable packaging regulations in all the countries where our products are sold while aiming to reduce overall packaging materials, increase the recycled content of our packaging and improve recyclability of packaging materials across all our business segments. Specifically, in our Consumer Health business, as part of our Healthy Lives Mission, we have set goals to reduce packaging waste, and we have driven many packaging improvements (see section: Consumer Health). Examples from our Pharmaceutical and MedTech segments include:
- Pharmaceutical: For all markets, the plastic trays used in our TREMFYA One Press line were replaced with a Pulp Injection Molding (PIM) tray. Extensive testing and evaluation of the material was required to obtain new material certifications and regulatory approvals, as injection-molded pulp had not been used previously in pharmaceutical industry packaging. This was a significant breakthrough in pharmaceutical packaging, particularly since PIM trays can be disposed of through regular cardboard recycling waste streams, available in most countries. We aim to convert all our self-injectable device platforms to PIM trays by 2025.
- MedTech: DePuy Synthes reduced primary packaging weight across a range of packaging platform solutions, including SYNTRAY, SYNSIGHT and PLATOON, while also reducing the size of the packages. ETHICON VISTASEAL, a fibrin sealant for surgical use, was launched with new packaging that is half the size and half the weight of the original, resulting in a significant reduction in waste and in storage space.
Partnerships for circularity: In 2021, we continued to engage with partners on projects that advance a circular economy, for example:
- The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council and the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, collaborating with industry leaders to increase healthcare recycling, reduce waste and elevate sustainability in global health systems.
- As a member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), companies strive to invent, produce and distribute new medicines and vaccines in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. One of the key pillars is to transition to a circular economic model by proactively innovating and expediting circular principles and remove regulatory blockers across the pharma value chain.
Products in the Environment
We recognize that the products we create to help patients, doctors and consumers can have environmental impacts after use. We, therefore, assess the end-of-life and post-use impacts of our products and develop category-specific action plans to improve performance over time, as necessary.
Pharmaceutical products: We are an active and founding member of the Antimicrobial Resistance Industry Alliance (AMRIA) and we collaborate across the industry to address AMR AMR Antimicrobial resistance (see section: Antimicrobial Resistance).
Pharmaceutical products take-back: In 2021, we relaunched our SAFE RETURNS program in the U.S. for home-administered immunology products, following a full redesign of the program to improve convenience and sustainability for patients. A significant feature of the redesigned program is the removal of the hazardous material classification due to the needle-safe authorization, thereby eliminating the need for patients to prepare special paperwork for handling by mainstream postal services. Additionally, the new system uses paper envelopes to return the devices after use instead of bulky plastic containers that were previously used. We intend to expand this program to nine countries in Europe in 2022. 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.
MedTech: To reduce the impact of medical device parts in the environment, J&J MedTech offers reprocessed, single-use devices manufactured by Sterilmed, Inc., a part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. In line with local laws, J&J MedTech also offers reprocessed products from other original manufacturers as well to provide a broad opportunity for customers to meet their needs in an environmentally responsible manner.
Bronchoscope reprocessing program: With traditional bronchoscopes, the hospital owns and manages the scope through its entire lifecycle, and the hospital must reprocess the scope between each clinical case. MONARCH READY is a novel bronchoscope sustainability program where Auris Health handles the service, maintenance and reprocessing of bronchoscopes and in doing so, maximizes the useful life for each bronchoscope while maintaining the highest standards for quality and device performance.
Reprocessing microlumen devices: Medical devices that have complex features and functionalities make reprocessing of these high-tech products increasingly challenging. Reprocessing medical devices that contain microlumens, in particular, have a higher degree of difficulty and risk due to the requirement of ensuring the lumen is completely clear of all soils and particulates, including very small 50 micron and larger microparticles that must be cleared to ensure patient safety. Sterilmed recently developed a new patent-pending test method for reprocessing microlumen devices that can detect microsized particles to ensure the lumen is clean and clear for all devices that pass this test—allowing us to reprocess these devices.
Surgical device recycling: Our initial pilot program in one hospital in Germany to recycle disposable medical instruments designed for single use was expanded to six clinics in 2021 and will be extended in Germany nationwide. The program allows hospitals to recycle metal and plastic components from Ethicon 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. The recycling initiative is now being introduced as a pilot in several additional countries across Europe.