The Patter of Tiny (Ecological) Feet
Committed to smaller footprints: Slim Pack helps reduce the ecological footprint of our fertility business. Ana Tornero & Gianpiero Lorusso explain how it works...
We help people across the globe realize their dreams of becoming parents. Now we’re making this special process more sustainable. We caught up with Ana Tornero, our Global Marketing Director of Global Business Franchise Fertility, and Gianpiero Lorusso, our Director of Global Upstream Logistics, Global Healthcare Operations, to find out how our new Slim Pack helps reduce the ecological footprint of our fertility business…
Ana, what is a Slim Pack and what role does it play in our fertility business?
Ana: Slim Pack is a new packaging solution for our fertility pens. It’s 40% smaller than its predecessor and is 100% free of plastic components. It represents our fertility business’s first step towards more sustainable practices – thanks to efficiencies in transportation and storage. Most importantly, it’s happening right now; we have already implemented it for our flagship brand in key markets like Europe, the US, and Australia, the implementation for the rest of our pen portfolio is currently ongoing. Our company has always been a business that thinks and acts sustainably – demonstrated recently by our Smash Packaging Initiative. Slim Pack is further building on the many ongoing sustainability initiatives within the healthcare sector.
Gianpiero, what environmental advantages does the Slim Pack offer? Can you share any figures or before/after comparisons?
Gianpiero: On top of having a smaller cardboard box, Slim Pack generates space savings of up to 55% per pallet – meaning less cold storage space in our warehouses, planes, trucks… and along the whole supply of our medicines. This reduces our CO2 emissions, linked to the transportation of our medicines, by 33%. And finally, by eliminating plastics we reduce the number of components required to create Slim Pack packaging.
Ana, are there any patient benefits to complement the obvious environmental ones?
Ana: Absolutely! Patients are always at the core of everything we do, and the new Slim Pack is not only more portable and discreet to carry, it also takes up less space at home, in their fridge. Plus, as it’s made entirely of cardboard, it’s easy to recycle or dispose of after use.
Our fertility business is committed to smaller footprints in every sense of the word, innovating to help achieve the dream of parenthood whilst playing our part to help protect the planet for future generations.
Our new Slim Pack is 40% smaller
...is more convenient for patients
...needs less cold storage space at home, in the clinic and along the supply chain
...will create a 33% less CO2 emissions
...creates space savings of up to 55% per pallet
...is made of fully recyclable cardboard
Removes the plastic tray eliminating 180 metric tons of plastic waste per year
How can we continue our efforts to improve our sustainability in Packaging and shipment?
Gianpiero: Various teams in manufacturing and supply chain are working on different initiatives to improve our impact on the environment. A good example of this was a recent change in transportation modes – which shifted 80% of our medicine deliveries from air to sea, allows us to save 10,600 tons of CO2 annually (compared with the figure in 2018).
Together with a global leader in the logistics industry, we are also looking at the use biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels to further decrease CO2 emissions associated with the shipment of our medicines.
One last personal question for you both: Has your work on Slim Pack sensitized you to the volume of unnecessary packaging in everyday life?
Ana: Indeed, I have become much more aware at a personal level and choose brands that follow strict standards and work with sustainable or recycled materials. We are also trying to minimize the amount of plastic we buy and use at home. I’m personally very proud to work for a company that has made a commitment to climate action and really acts on it.
Gianpiero: Mentalities and habits are evolving in the right direction, and you can see that sustainability is very close to the heart of the younger generation. I can see it with my daughter, she’s 16 years old and already has very good habits. She often suggests new sustainable ideas at home e.g. using public transportation, preventing and collecting plastic waste in nature (sea, forests, etc.), and shows preference for products with sustainable packaging. In our daily life, we can all do small things to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing the amount of plastic we use, consuming local products, and minimizing our waste.
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Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Sustainability Report 2021 & audited by KPMG on Nov 2021: CO2 and plastic savings reflect annual estimates at the time of full global Slim Pack implementation. Calculations are based on comparison of most recent calendar year of global pen shipments vs. the equivalent if shipping the new Slim Pack, considering the reduction of the packaging box from 96 x 45 x 215.5 mm to 77.5 x 42 x 157 mm. This leads to increase in units per pallet between 40-55% due to varying pallet size/dimension restrictions by transportation mode (e.g. air, sea, truck). Carbon footprint is defined as the CO2 emissions due to transportation of pen products between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, manufacturing sites and primary destination / port of entry in each country. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, set the goal of transporting less than 10% of the healthcare products by air by 2023, thereby reducing the annual CO2 emissions by 10,000 metric tons which was already achieved by the end of 2021 and resulted in reduced transport-related emissions by 10,000 metric tons of CO2. Plastic savings are calculated using the unit weight of individual plastic tray and multiplied by the total production volume in one calendar year, once Slim Pack is fully implemented across all fertility pens worldwide. With this new free of single-use plastic packaging, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, reduced the environmental footprint of the mentioned products by using fewer raw materials and reducing transport volumes. It is projected that this new packaging can reduce transport-related emissions by approximately one third, or the equivalent of 360 metric tons of CO2eq (WTW) per year.