7 Ways Pharmacies Can Be More Sustainable With Almost Zero Effort!

Sustainable Pharmacies
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The Importance Of Sustainable Pharmacies

In an era where climate change is an ever-present threat, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of sustainable pharmacies. This isn’t a niche concept anymore.

More than just a fad, sustainability is a necessity, especially in the healthcare sector. Pharmacies are integral to this transformation.

They’re the bridge between the healthcare industry and the public, giving them a unique role in influencing eco-friendly changes.

The Role of Pharmacies in Sustainability

Pharmacies are currently on the frontline of incorporating sustainability in their operations. This transition has been gradual, but its momentum is increasing.

As purveyors of health, pharmacies have the responsibility to uphold and promote practices that do not harm the environment. This includes their use of resources, waste management, and even the choice of products on their shelves.

However, the current state of sustainability within pharmacies varies widely. Some pharmacies are trailblazers, implementing innovative green strategies, while others are only just beginning to understand the importance of eco-friendly measures.

  • The environmental impact of pharmacies is significant. It spans the production and disposal of medications, energy consumption, and plastic waste. Each of these elements contributes to the carbon footprint of pharmacies.

With the growing awareness about the need for sustainable practices in all sectors, pharmacies too must begin considering how their operations can be less damaging to the environment.

The potential is there. With simple changes, pharmacies can reduce their environmental impact, contributing to a healthier and more sustainable future.

Sustainable Pharmacy | University of Helsinki

7 Ways Pharmacies Can Be More Sustainable

Sustainability in the pharmacy sector is not only about reducing environmental impact, but it’s also about setting the stage for a healthier future for all. Here are seven easy ways pharmacies can contribute to this future:

1. Adopting a Sustainable Procurement Policy

Pharmacies procure a wide range of products. Making conscious decisions about what and from whom you source can significantly contribute to sustainability.

Consider partnering with suppliers who prioritise eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Look out for certifications like ISO 14001, which is awarded to companies with efficient environmental management systems.

By choosing environmentally conscious suppliers, your pharmacy will contribute to reducing pollution and waste in the supply chain. It’s an easy change that can make a huge difference.

2. Reducing Energy Consumption

Like any other business, pharmacies consume significant amounts of energy for lighting, temperature control, and running equipment. Transitioning to energy-efficient appliances can significantly reduce this consumption.

Simple steps like switching to LED lights, investing in Energy Star rated equipment, and using programmable thermostats can lower your energy use.

Reducing energy consumption not only lowers your carbon footprint, but also brings down your utility bills. It’s a win-win for sustainable pharmacies.

3. Implementing Efficient Waste Management

Pharmacies generate a lot of waste – from outdated medicines to packaging materials. Implementing a waste management policy that includes recycling, safe disposal of medical waste, and reduction of single-use plastics can make a big difference.

Partner with a certified medical waste disposal service to ensure biohazardous waste is dealt with safely. Encourage recycling within your premises and aim to switch to biodegradable bags and packaging.

Through proper waste management, your pharmacy can help reduce landfill waste, decrease pollution, and promote a cleaner environment.

4. Promoting Eco-friendly Products

Pharmacies have the power to promote sustainable consumption by stocking eco-friendly products. This could be products made from recycled materials, products with minimal packaging, or those that use organic or fair-trade ingredients.

Stocking these products not only gives your customers the opportunity to make environmentally-friendly choices but also sets an example for other businesses in the sector.

By promoting these products, sustainable pharmacies can drive the demand for responsibly manufactured products and contribute to a healthier planet.

5. Providing Digital Receipts

One often overlooked source of waste in pharmacies is paper receipts. By offering digital receipts, pharmacies can significantly reduce their paper consumption.

Implementing this is as simple as setting up a system that emails receipts to customers rather than printing them. And for customers who aren’t comfortable with this, you can still offer paper receipts as an option.

Digital receipts can save thousands of trees each year, making this a quick win for the environment.

6. Encouraging Telepharmacy

Telepharmacy involves providing pharmaceutical care through telecommunication and information technologies to patients in locations where they may not have direct access to a pharmacist. It’s an emerging practice that can significantly reduce carbon emissions.

By offering services like virtual consultations and electronic prescription services, you can reduce the need for patients to travel for minor ailments.

Telepharmacy can help reduce carbon emissions from transportation, making it an excellent sustainable initiative for pharmacies to consider.

7. Training Staff on Sustainability Practices

Finally, none of the above steps will be effective unless your staff is onboard. Training your staff on the importance of sustainability and how to implement eco-friendly practices in their day-to-day tasks is vital.

Include sustainability in your staff training programs. Emphasise the role each employee plays in making the pharmacy sustainable and the impact their actions have on the environment.

When your staff is committed to sustainability, your pharmacy will find it much easier to implement and maintain sustainable practices.

Pharmacies sustainability toolkit

Sustainability Toolkit For Pharmacies

This toolkit is specifically designed for pharmacies, providing a detailed guide to infuse sustainability into your operations. The kit includes:

Sustainability Action Plan Template

This template aids you in defining, implementing, and monitoring a detailed sustainability strategy for your pharmacy. It helps you identify specific goals, actionable steps, and the resources you will need to achieve these objectives. This action plan serves as your roadmap towards a more sustainable operation.

Sustainability Policy Template

Your pharmacy’s sustainability policy is your public commitment to the environment. This template provides a guideline on how to articulate your commitments, targets, and the actions you intend to take to achieve these targets. It’s a crucial step in outlining your dedication to sustainable practices.

Sustainable Supplier Assessment Template

Choosing sustainable suppliers is a crucial aspect of a sustainable pharmacy. This template helps you assess the sustainability credentials of your suppliers, considering factors like their waste management policies, energy efficiency, and ethical labour practices. With this, you can make better-informed decisions and build a greener supply chain.

Waste Audit Template

Effective waste management starts with understanding your waste generation. This template helps you conduct a detailed audit of your waste – what it is, how much you generate, and how you currently dispose of it. With this information, you can develop strategies to reduce, reuse, and recycle your waste.

Employee Sustainability Pledge Template

Your staff play a crucial role in your journey towards sustainability. This template provides a pledge that your employees can take, committing to sustainable actions in their day-to-day tasks. It’s a powerful tool to ensure everyone in your team is committed to your sustainability goals.

Download Sustainable Pharmacy Toolkit Now

Pharmacies Found These Helpful

As you navigate your sustainability journey, you’re not alone. Other healthcare sectors are also working towards becoming more sustainable. You might find it helpful to learn from their experiences and initiatives. Check out these pages for more insights:

Sustainable Doctors – Discover how medical practices are incorporating sustainability into their operations, from waste management to energy consumption.

Sustainable Dentists – Find out how dental clinics are going green. With innovations like digital radiography and biodegradable dental products.

Sustainable Supermarkets – Explore how supermarkets are reducing their environmental impact, with strategies like eliminating single-use plastics and sourcing locally-produced goods.

Each of these pages offers unique insights that can help sustainable pharmacies develop their own sustainability plans. Take a look!

“Pharmacies can support sustainability by implementing environmentally friendly practices, reducing packaging waste, and promoting proper medication disposal.” – Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)

The Challenges for Pharmacies & Solutions

While the path to becoming a sustainable pharmacy is rewarding, it’s not without its hurdles. One of the main challenges lies in implementing sustainable practices without disrupting the pharmacy’s essential services. Another obstacle can be the lack of awareness or resistance among staff to new, sustainable procedures. Finally, finding and partnering with sustainable suppliers can also present its own set of difficulties.

Solutions to Overcome Challenges

To overcome these challenges, start with small, manageable changes. This reduces the risk of disrupting services and allows you to gradually build up your sustainability efforts. For resistance among staff, training and education about the importance of sustainability can be powerful tools. By understanding the ‘why’ behind these changes, your team is more likely to support them. As for sourcing sustainable suppliers, using the Sustainable Supplier Assessment Template included in the toolkit can streamline this process and ensure you partner with genuinely eco-conscious suppliers.

Case Studies – Pharmacy Sustainability

Many pharmacies worldwide are already enjoying the benefits of sustainable practices. One excellent example is the Green Pharmacy Initiative in Germany, which has developed a range of measures to minimise the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals. They have successfully implemented waste management programs and established environmentally friendly disposal methods, inspiring many other pharmacies to do the same.

In the USA, Walgreens has implemented a comprehensive sustainability plan that includes waste reduction, energy efficiency, and sustainable building practices. They’ve achieved a significant decrease in their carbon footprint, demonstrating that big chain pharmacies can also make substantial environmental changes.

Sustainability Stats

When it comes to statistics, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that the healthcare sector contributes to 4.4% of global net emissions, with pharmacies playing a crucial role in these figures. However, the same report notes that the sector could significantly reduce its impact with concerted sustainability efforts.

Meanwhile, in the USA, a report by the Practice Greenhealth organisation outlines that the American health sector could save $15 billion over 10 years by implementing sustainable practices. That’s a compelling case for sustainable pharmacies to start their sustainability journey!


In essence, becoming a sustainable pharmacy doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It begins with small steps – from shifting to electronic prescriptions and reducing waste to sourcing eco-friendly supplies and training staff on sustainable practices. The impact of these changes can be enormous, leading to a more eco-conscious business and healthier planet.

It’s time to leverage the tools at your disposal and join the global movement towards sustainability. Remember, every effort counts!

Sustainable Pharmacies FAQ

Q1: How can pharmacies become more sustainable?
A1: Pharmacies can become more sustainable by implementing strategies such as reducing waste, sourcing eco-friendly supplies, and optimising energy use. It also involves training staff on sustainable practices and leveraging technology.

Q2: Why should pharmacies adopt sustainable practices?
A2: Pharmacies, like other businesses, have a responsibility towards the environment. Moreover, sustainable practices can result in cost savings, enhance brand reputation, and meet increasing customer demands for eco-friendly businesses.

Q3: What challenges might pharmacies face in becoming sustainable?
A3: Challenges may include initial costs, disruption of services, resistance among staff, and finding sustainable suppliers. However, these can be overcome with careful planning, training, and the use of assessment tools.

Q4: Are there any pharmacies already adopting sustainable practices?
A4: Yes, many pharmacies worldwide are incorporating sustainability into their operations. For example, the Green Pharmacy Initiative in Germany and Walgreens in the USA.

Q5: How can pharmacies start their sustainability journey?
A5: Pharmacies can start by downloading our sustainable pharmacy toolkit, which provides a roadmap and templates for kickstarting their sustainability efforts.

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