The major source of pharmaceuticals entering the environment is via patient excretion following use of medicine. A smaller contribution stems from emissions resulting from the manufacturing process and from improper disposal of medications. The major source of personal care products entering the environment is via use of products and rinsing from the body during bathing activities.
Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
We aim to mitigate the effects of medicines in the environment in the following ways:
- Conducting environmental risk assessments of all active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in our products prior to market approval to determine potential environmental concentration and risks;
- Monitoring our manufacturing wastewaters for potential toxicity to aquatic species, controlling our discharges according to local regulations and maintaining discharge levels below no-effect concentrations;
- Employing sourcing practices that help ensure that our chemicals and API suppliers comply with our expectations for environmental and social practices;
- Advancing the science through research and public-private research consortiums to find new solutions to minimize the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
Pharmaceuticals entering the environment are a contributing factor in the rapid growth of AMR, the resistance of pathogens to previously effective drugs. As one of the original signatories of the Davos Declaration, in 2016 Johnson & Johnson joined the industrywide call to curb development of AMR, also endorsing the Roadmap on Progress for Combating AMR. We are working on multiple fronts to fulfill our AMR Roadmap commitments, including those related to environmental impact from production of antibiotics.
Personal Care Products in the Environment
The Johnson & Johnson statement on the Impact of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment lays out our approach to assessing and managing our impacts, while partnering with others to advance responsible science-based policy.
In our Consumer business, many of our products are washed off the body into the local environment and water supply. To understand how our formulations interact with these environments we use our patented GLOBAL AQUATIC INGREDIENT ASSESSMENT protocol.
We have also voluntarily removed microbeads from our products worldwide. Finally, we continue to replace the plastic sticks from our cotton buds with 100% paper sticks—completed in Africa, Europe, Japan and Middle East, and rolling out across other regions.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
We comply with applicable EPR regulations in different countries, and invest in many initiatives for better management of our products at end of life. We support voluntary take-back 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, the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies work with health facilities to collect medical devices that otherwise would be immediately bound for landfills or incineration, and reprocesses those devices so that they can be reused by healthcare professionals. Also, our Janssen U.S. business has created the Janssen SAFE RETURNS program for patients using our biologics products at home, enabling them to collect and return used injection devices like prefilled syringes and auto-injectors for disposal.