Prioritizing cold chain sustainability

Survey uncovers key trends in biopharma pursuits for sustainable logistics


According to results from a newly released cold chain sustainability survey, the biopharma industry is increasing its pace to prioritize sustainability in business and operational strategies. Nearly half of all respondents in the survey, produced by Pelican BioThermal, indicate that their existing practice had always factored sustainability into cold chain purchasing decisions.

Overall, the survey uncovered three key trends. The first is that although 66% of organizations rate sustainability as very important, valuing sustainability hasn’t yet translated into widespread action. More than half of respondents—53%–reported their companies don’t currently use sustainable or green initiatives in their companies. But organizations expressed a desire to work with companies that help them advance their sustainability goals, ultimately moving sustainability from valuable to actionable.

In 2015, the United Nations and its member countries created Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the world on a sustainable path to 2030. With mounting pressures to improve sustainability, including from consumers and corporate stakeholders, biopharma companies are actively looking for ways to preserve the planet, reduce waste, and strengthen their brands.

The second trend speaks to how cold chain partners can help advance biopharma’s sustainability goals and how life sciences companies seek to partner with like-minded organizations. More than half of biopharmas indicate that it’s very important to choose cold chain packaging options that advance their organization’s sustainability.

Additionally, 64% inquire about sustainability when performing audits of suppliers and 52% reported that they, too, were audited for sustainability by vendors supplying their organizations.

The final trend reveals that recyclability and lower emissions matter. Greater focus is being put on how cold chain packaging is constructed, with increasingly high value placed on cold chain packaging that is recyclable or can more easily enter the waste stream. Nearly half of the survey respondents (48%) said they always look for packaging with these characteristics.

Likewise, the industry tends to lean toward lighter, more energy efficient shippers that reduce carbon emissions for temperature-sensitive pharma products being shipped by air. Fifty-six percent, according to the survey, already use these shippers and 81% are likely to use energy-efficient packaging in the future.