Each inhabitant of the EU generated an estimated 177.9 kg of packaging waste in 2020, according to Eurostat. Of that, 41.1% was paper and cardboard. In Germany as elsewhere, disposable cardboard generates unnecessary waste and leads to overflowing wastepaper containers, threatening the long-term future of the planet.
For years MSD Animal Health prioritised sustainable practices in Germany, including the use of biodegradable packaging materials and compostable bubble wrap. Despite these efforts, the company knew it could do more to build upon its legacy of creating life-saving animal and human medications and vaccines in a more sustainable way.
With support from its customers and employees, in 2021, MSD Animal Health became the first manufacturing pharmaceutical company in Germany to implement a reusable packaging system and ship medicines and vaccines in sustainable, reusable boxes.
The new system has benefited both customers and the environment. Eliminating disposable boxes reduces the company’s CO2 footprint by more than 50% and saves more than 80% of water used, without any additional costs for customers. Transport damage to medicines has been reduced by one third. Additionally, no packaging material is lost throughout the cycle – even material from defective boxes is reused to create new boxes.
According to Julie Vermooten, Executive Director, Europe Public Policy and Government Relations, MSD Animal Health:
‘At MSD, in our own operations and throughout our value chain, we focused on implementing innovative ways to contribute to the overall sustainability efforts. We are on track to achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. By this initiative we are making progress on our climate change targets and redeveloping the tools and processes needed to reduce our carbon footprint.’
In May 2023, MSD Animal Health marked a milestone when it delivered its one millionth reusable box in Germany. While celebrating its success, the company hopes this initiative is only just the beginning. MSD is in close contact with colleagues outside of Germany and plans to introduce reusable boxes into shipping processes in other countries as well.