Sustainable me - a pharmacist’s role in reducing the carbon footprint of healthcare delivery

Singleton, Judith A. (2015) Sustainable me - a pharmacist’s role in reducing the carbon footprint of healthcare delivery. In APSA-ASCEPT Joint Scientific Meeting 2015, 29 November - 2 December 2015, Hobart, TAS.



Climate change has been described as the most significant global health threat of the 21st century. Already, negative impacts on human health and wellbeing are being observed. These impacts present enormous challenges for the healthcare sector and the time has come for healthcare professionals to demonstrate leadership in addressing these challenges. Since any unsustainable organizational practices of healthcare organisations may ultimately have a negative impact on human health, there is an implicit moral obligation for these organisations and the people who work in them, to deliver healthcare more sustainably. If one considers that in 2010 pharmaceuticals comprised 22% of the carbon footprint of the NHS England (equating to 4.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions) and 3% of England’s total carbon footprint (NHS Sustainable Development Unit, 2012), by reducing the carbon footprint of pharmaceuticals used in their healthcare organisations, pharmacists can have a significant impact on reducing the organisation’s total carbon footprint and ultimately on the public’s health.


The engagement of pharmacists with sustainability initiatives in the workplace has been largely unreported in international and national pharmacy journals. This paper aims to highlight the important role that pharmacists can play in helping to reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare delivery.


Literature was reviewed to identify areas where pharmacists could influence the more sustainable use of pharmaceuticals in their organisations.


Much of the carbon footprint of pharmaceuticals is embedded carbon from their manufacture and delivery. Through efficient inventory management practices, pharmacists can reduce the number of orders and potentially reduce the number of deliveries required. Pharmacists can also help to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical waste generated. Of the waste that is generated, they can help improve the segregation of waste streams to increase the amount of non-contaminated packaging waste that is recycled and reduce the amount of pharmaceutical waste being incinerated or ending up in landfill.


NHS Sustainable Development Unit. (2012). Sustainability in the NHS Health Check 2012. NHS Sustainable Development Unit. Cambridge, UK: NHS Sustainable Devlopment Unit.

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ID Code: 90756
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 22 Jan 2016 02:07
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2016 02:08

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