Green and Sustainable Pharmacy

2 mins read

Green pharmacy is the design of pharmaceutical products and processes that eliminate or reduce significantly the use and generation of hazardous substances and the prevention/reduction of environmental/safety and health impacts at the source.

Is green and sustainable not the same? There are differences in the meaning of green and sustainable. ‘Green’ often focuses on the chemical/ pharmaceutical itself, including environmental aspects only. Sometimes safety and handling aspects are included. However, these are not sufficient to define the differences between them.

For example, a new pharmaceutical can be green in terms of the quality and quantity of waste generated during its synthesis. Or renewable feedstock might have been used. However, the pharmaceutical may accumulate in the environment after excretion. If re-production of the renewable feedstock needs much water and fertilizer, is in competition with food production or depends on an endangered species it may not be called sustainable.

Another point is that greener products or chemicals may become less green or even problematic if they are produced and applied in high volumes. For example: A green packaging material contains an antimicrobial to preserve its content such as food from spoilage. This antimicrobial can contribute to resistance by being transferred to the food or by being set free into the environment after the usage of the packaging. Thus, a, packaging may be ‘green’ but not sustainable.

A sustainable view would also ask what the origin of the food is (local, regional or distant source) and how long we want vs. we need to store it. Educating people on how to handle and store food properly would be a much more sustainable approach to reducing food spoilage rather than increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance.


K. Kümmerer, M. Hempel (eds.), Green and Sustainable Pharmacy, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-05199-9_1

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