Case Study in Sustainability
Published: January 8th, 2013
Dividella measures the impact on the environment and on costs of its NeoTOP solution compared with traditional packaging
In a presentation at Pharmapack North America on ‘Effectively Measuring Sustainability In Pharmaceutical Packaging,” Dividella AG (www.dividella.ch) highlighted the benefits of its NeoTOP solution for sustainability and cost savings.
The Körber-Medipak Group company reported on a case study comparing two packages for six syringes delivered to a hospital: a mono material NeoTOP carton automatically formed and erected from two pieces of flat cardboard on a Dividella packaging machine, and traditional thermoformed plastic trays of PVC, PP, and aluminum in paper carton.
Life cycle analyses (LCA) of the two presentations were performed using the LCA impact assessment tool developed by PRé Consultants B.V. for quantifying ecological sustainability. Using the Eco-indicator 99 method, the impact of material use and process emissions was assessed, to provide one single score for the overall environmental foot print of each package.
“The driving force of a sustainability initiative is a cost reduction strategy. Environmental ranking goes hand-in-hand with economics,” says Dr. Manfred Zurkirch, managing director, Dividella.
The inventory step of the LCA describes emissions and raw materials, accounting for raw material manufacturing, processes for making the package products, energy consumption of secondary pack machines, transport of materials to the pharmaceutical plant, and end-of-life landfill scenario.
“Key performance indicators at this step can be highlighted, such as CO2 emissions,” says Zurkirch. For example, the carbon footprint of the NeoTOP solution over the whole life cycle is about 18 grams of CO2, compared with 80 grams for the plastic solutions, 155 grams for aluminum.
In the next assessment step, environmental damage is measured in Eco-indicator points, assessing factors including carcinogens, impact on climate change, acidification, depletion of minerals, land use, depletion of fossil fuels, and ozone layer impact.
The NeoTOP solution demonstrated a burden on the environment about five times less than that caused by the traditional packages. Other case studies such as with ampoule packaging have borne out similar results, Zurkirch says.
“Often times it is feasible to optimize the volume of the NeoTOP package much more than that of a plastic tray. In such cases the environmental footprint can be even eight to 12 times smaller compared with a thermoformed tray in a cardboard box,” Zurkirch adds.
Dividella also quantified savings in outbound logistics. Outbound volume is optimized as products such as syringes, vials, and injectors can often be more densely packed in the NeoTOP cartons than in thermoformed trays or blisters. This is primarily due to the way the packages are formed on the respective machines. Volume reductions can exceed 50%, enabling significant savings in transportation costs, in particular for the quickly growing class of parenteral products requiring cold chain distribution.
The company compared the costs of shipping four-count syringe packs in the NeoTOP versus standard combo packs, assuming volumes of 2.5 million packages per year at an average distance of 1600 miles. The mono material solution enables savings of $1 million a year in boat transport, $10 million in air transport.
“These examples clearly show that material and transportation costs can be substantially lower for solutions that are also ecologically viable. In pharmaceutical packaging, we have never observed a case where ecological and economic go against each other,” Zurkirch says.
A part of the Germany-based Korber Medipak Group, Dividella manufactures top loading packaging lines for the fully automatic packing, in 100% paperboard packs, of ampules, vials, cartridges, prefilled syringes, injection pens, nasal sprays, and inhallers, as well as tablet blisters, patches, transdermals, plastic ampule strips, and other products.