How can you turn a buzz word into a business-critical principal? Per Rehné explores the benefits of changing your mindset when it comes to sustainability.
Like many adjacent industries, the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors are making serious headway in the direction of sustainability. While the idea isn’t new – all competitive modern businesses are now putting ‘green’ principles at the heart of business – it’s new ground for many in terms of using sustainability performance as a commercial edge.
The health market has almost existed in a bubble when compared to more traditional ‘retail’ industries such as food and beverage and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) because the intent is different. Consumers are judging products on different things – when selecting a product such as medicine to meet a particular health need, it’s all about the scientific backing and efficacy, or when more than one comparable alternative exists, it may then come down to price point or brand equity. Now, of course, sustainability is becoming absolutely central to every business looking to compete. Consumers are making purchase decisions that include the environmental impact of the product, which creates real influence on the bottom line.
At Clasado Biosciences, we sit at a really interesting crossroads in terms of where we fit in the market. Not only do we manufacture the award-winning Bimuno® prebiotic supplement for consumer retail markets including independent pharmacies, high street stores and supermarkets, but alongside we sell Bimuno® as a prebiotic ingredient for other brands to use to power their formulations. We also have an active healthcare professional programme, engaging with pharmacists, general practitioners and dietitians, to spread more knowledge of gut health and its advantages.
“Consumers are making purchase decisions that include the environmental impact of the product, which creates real influence on the bottom line”
This multifaceted business strategy gives us a unique perspective on what consumers are looking for, what the health industry is seeing in terms of demand, how product developers are reacting, and what the main priorities are set to be moving forward in the health industry. Of course, it also helps us to shore up our own market performance and ensure we’re always delivering what the market needs. For us, this means making our business as sustainable as it can be.
One of the most interesting aspects of sustainability as it continues to drive the life science agenda is that a more data-driven approach can be extremely effective at creating lasting, meaningful change. The pharma sector is razor sharp in terms of testing and scientific profiling; that same expertise can be directed at ‘greener’ manufacturing and supply.
For our part, we aim to make our sustainable efforts transparent and deeply integrated into our company’s DNA. It’s this approach that stops sustainability being an obligation or, at worst, just lip service. To create a real ‘sustainable transformation’, we will mentally deconstruct our complex supply chain to analyse each stage individually. What are our Carbon outputs in scopes 1, 2 and 3? Where can we digitalise to reduce CO2 emissions and how are we making that measurable?
This approach means that our business always understands the wider environmental impact of its activity, from the sourcing of raw materials, the production of our prebiotic ingredient, the manufacturing of our finished consumer supplements and all packaging and labelling. With transparency, it also enables every member of the Clasado team to be invested in the sustainable development of the business.
We all have important sustainable initiatives on the agenda, including global Net Zero goals, the EU Packaging Levy, and for businesses in the UK, the Plastic Packaging Tax and Competition & Market Authority’s Green Claims Code – so there’s never been a better time for life sciences to get better acquainted with a consumer-led and data focused sustainability strategy.
Our key message to our friends and peers in the life sciences and pharma sector, whether that be OTC or otherwise, is that we have to change our mindset when it comes to sustainability. If we view it as a concession or a box ticking exercise, it won’t be meaningful. If it’s embraced as part of company culture and is given real weight in product or brand development, it becomes a very organic process. As the health industry continues to become more like the ‘classic’ retail sectors, how effectively life sciences, biosciences and pharma businesses can create meaningful change will not only protect the long-term future of the sectors but will signpost a new dawn of sustainability.