Sustainability Meets Science: Three Examples from the Next Frontier of Sustainable Life Science Innovation 

Everyone recognizes the pressure to achieve sustainability, but it can be a tricky goal to chase. In industries like healthcare and biopharma, where patients can live or die based on their ability to access care, sustainability initiatives must balance quality and safety with environmental impact. However, companies in the life sciences are uniquely positioned to not only tackle sustainability – but to innovate solutions and serve as an example for other industries. Achieving net zero carbon emissions and recycling are no longer acceptable stand-alone initiatives. Modern sustainability across the life sciences must permeate every aspect of operation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the CG Life clients making waves in the sustainability space.

MicroPep: A biotech company pairing microbiology and sustainable agriculture

Traditional agricultural practices, such as using conventional pesticides and fertilizers, can negatively impact the environment, degrading soil, polluting water, and creating waste. Cumulatively, these practices can impact human populations worldwide, particularly in the face of climate change. Sustainable agriculture practices act to reduce this impact by helping protect the environment while generating much-needed resources, including food. Healthy crops produced by sustainable agricultural practices are critical for food security and human health.

Micropep is a biotech company that believes the future of food security and the planet rests on our ability to grow the planet and utilize our scientific power. Micropep develops natural crop protection solutions with the aim of providing farmers with more tools to do the critical job of feeding the world.

Micopep’s technology is based on micropeptides: short, naturally occurring amino acid chains that target and regulate plant genes and proteins to control plant health and susceptibility to disease. Through ongoing work, they are identifying new micropeptides capable of regulating the production of proteins key to plant health and the ability to overcome disease. Product candidates in Micropep’s pipeline represent powerful new tools for the agricultural community that can be used alone or in combination with traditional pesticides and fertilizers. Through innovation, Micropep is finding solutions to address food production challenges such as pest and disease resistance and climate change.

In addition to creating powerful agricultural tools, Micropep’s technology addresses some of the problems associated with conventional agriculture. Their solutions are highly targeted, don’t have off-target effects on other organisms, and are rapidly degraded in soil. This means they don’t persist or accumulate to affect the environment or human health negatively.

Micropep serves as a unique example of science wielded to benefit society, not just through a solution to an immediate problem but through innovation that will serve an industry for generations to come. By mitigating and preventing plant disease in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner, farmers worldwide can bolster their ability to produce bountiful, healthy foods for years to come.

International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering: Honoring sustainable innovation with the Facility of the Year Awards

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is notoriously carbon emission-intensive and resource-dependent, but developing sustainable processes and implementing them in manufacturing facilities can be an expensive and daunting undertaking. The future of pharma manufacturing is one in which sustainability is considered in all aspects, from the design of manufacturing facilities to the processing of individual drug components.

The International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE)’s annual Facility of the Year Awards (FOYA) highlights progress in sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing facility design and influences a new status quo for the industry. Each year, FOYA category winners are recognized for their innovation in sustainability, bringing awareness to pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities incorporating sustainable practices at a high level.

Past winners of the ISPE FOYA Social Impact – Sustainability category have incorporated a wide variety of features into their facility designs and operations that represent the next frontier of sustainability in pharmaceutical manufacturing, including:

  • The ability to source 100% of electricity through renewable sources (often with built-in redundancies to avoid dependency on one renewable energy resource)
  • Systems that facilitate the re-use of rainwater and the recycling of wastewater for reuse in the production process (in some cases reducing freshwater consumption by upwards of 60%, with goals to reach 90% reduction in a matter of years)
  • Systems that can generate additional energy from waste incineration
  • Fully paperless operation
  • Intentional process and equipment changes to reduce the use of natural gas and halogenated hydrocarbons
  • The adjustment of facility design to allow for more streamlined operations and reduced waste

In addition to sustainability, other FOYA categories include innovation in operations, digitization and automation (Pharma 4.0), and supply chain. All of these categories can have dramatic impacts on the sustainability of pharma. Not only does the FOYA bring attention to the facilities that are actively innovating in the space, but it also facilitates industry-wide discussion about what is achievable and how to implement changes. Together, knowledge permeated through ISPE FOYA paves the way for continued improvement and innovation across the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

KBI: A CDMO eco-influencing at scale

Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs) provide end-to-end drug development and manufacturing support to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. CDMOs are a crucial part of the biopharma ecosystem, providing critical support that helps life-saving therapies reach the patients who need them. In this role, CDMOs are uniquely positioned to orchestrate innovation, particularly as the pharmaceutical industry evolves to accommodate increased numbers of personalized and small-batch therapies.

KBI is a CDMO taking on the innovation challenge with sustainability in mind. To KBI, sustainability isn’t just a choice; it’s a strategic imperative. They know that as key players in the biopharma ecosystem, they have the unique power to influence and implement eco-friendly practices at scale.

From their vantage point as a CDMO, KBI sees the opportunities for sustainable development across all aspects of drug development and manufacturing, with each sustainable initiative reducing environmental impact and enhancing the industry’s overall resilience. This can include optimizations in the lab and during manufacturing that improve quality, reduce the need for repeat processes, and strengthen the ability of facilities to be efficient with resource use, thus reducing waste. It can also include innovating throughout the supply chain, such as choosing more local suppliers and considering transportation and distribution. Ultimately, there may be upfront costs with implementing sustainable initiatives, but KBI believes they will be outweighed by the long-term gains of reduced operational costs, better public perception, and reduced environmental impact.

By embracing sustainability, CDMOs like KBI not only future-proof their operations but also become architects of a more responsible and impactful biopharmaceutical future.

CDMOs can do more than manufacture drugs; they can implement practices that leave a lasting legacy of sustainability, health, and environmental stewardship.