It was another beautiful day in Nijmegen - the perfect conditions for many participants to cycle to CleanMed Europe – a great, emission-free start to the day!
The morning consisted of a wider variety of parallel sessions. Participants discussed green infrastructure solutions such as: wetlands, green rooftops, and green walls to provide health, climate, and resilience benefits. The importance of measuring clinical effects of building materials, design, and green space was highlighted, and how demonstrated cost savings and health benefits help make the argument for these approaches. Daniel Eriksson, founder of Nordic Center for Sustainable Healthcare (NCSH), presented the Nordic white paper on sustainable healthcare along with some initiatives and examples in the field of climate, energy supply and production, chemicals, and many more.
Other sessions explored how waste management should be considered as part of procurement reflecting a circular view of resources. Ethical procurement for healthcare was also discussed in another session, looking at the reputational and political risks associated with procurement, as well as economic risks of non-sustainable procurement. States have the responsibility to respect human rights, and sometimes it’s the same price for gloves from a “good supplier” vs a “bad supplier” - we can therefore use procurement to ensure responsible behaviour.
When discussing environmental protection from pharmaceuticals, Jason Snape from AstraZeneca stressed that the guidelines for Environmental Risk Assessments of human medicinal products need to be updated to include key aspects such as the risk for the development of resistance. Dr Roberta Hofman-Caris from KWR Watercycle Research Institute also showed their research into reducing pharmaceuticals in the environment at source.
In the afternoon, the Market Lounge was a lively session of 17 discussion groups, ranging from topics such as greening the OR, pharmaceuticals in the environment, sustainable food, and alternative plasticisers. Within this structured networking session, participants were able to have focussed conversations with relevant groups, exchange several business cards and expand their networks, laying the foundations for future collaboration and projects.
To close the second day, the audience was welcomed to the plenary by Fiona Adshead, Chairperson of the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, who first introduced Maria van de Heijden, Director of MVO (CSR) Netherlands.
Maria opened by saying the time to explain why we need to work on sustainable business has passed, and instead Maria spoke on how we must make a fundamental change. Maria explained how CSR – Corporate Social responsibility, is less about risk management or reduced costs but more concerned with growth, innovation, and share value.
MVO’s emerging work in sustainable pharmaceuticals brings together stakeholders with the goal to promote transparency & sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry.
Following on from Maria, Nicolai Schaff from SIWI expressed that like MVO, the provide platforms, but from the entry point of water. Nicolai’s work identified shared responsibility along the lifecycle of pharmaceuticals, most urgently in response to the threat of antimicrobial resistance.
A characteristic for antibiotics is that APIs entering the environment – but more is needed that just effluent management, we need to look at more than just the end of the pipe. Nicolai also highlighted that shared, cross-border water management should be seen as an opportunity for collaboration as opposed to a source of conflict.
Though Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is related to many of the goals, Nicolai describes it as the missing SDGand highlighted the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment upon AMR, Nicolai explained how high concentrations of industrial pollution is a large source of resistance genes. As he passed over to Alba Tiley, Nicolai applauded DSM Sinochem’s willingness to participate in these type of conferences and join the discussion, as well as their open transparency.
As the Director of Sustainable Antibiotics, Alba opened by saying how grateful she is that this issue is on the agenda of CleanMed Europe, and that it’s importance is recognised through this plenary session. After a short introduction to DSM Sinochem (which might be less well known outside of The Netherlands), Alba explained how they apply the same standards to all their production facilities both within and outside the EU. She followed by saying that pharmaceutical pollution is one of the contributors to antimicrobial resistance. We have legislation missing in certain areas and countries, where they may be trying to grow their economies whilst companies in the West can be chasing the lowest cost.
Though DSM Sinochem is a small company, they have powerful suppliers and customers that they can leverage – though it is challenging. They maintain a position of higher standards and improved transparency; they also aim to carry out antimicrobial activity testing as well as dedicated wastewater treatment plants and implement good practice with maximum discharge limits. Alba closed by saying whilst transparency could be considered one of the most important steps, it will be one of the most challenging in the competitive culture of the pharmaceutical industry.
After an exciting and engaging day, participants made their way to Fort Lent to relax and socialise further at the gala dinner, strengthening the connections they have made before we head into our final day in the European Green Capital of Nijmegen.
All conference photos can be found here and are free to use when accredited to HCWH Europe.