How important is sustainability to a Swede?

In today’s issue of MiljöRapporten Direkt (a daily sustainability newsletter from MiljöRapporten that you know I think highly of), I found an interesting article discussing the results from a survey called Sverigestudien (in English it would roughly be ”the Sweden Study”). It is an initiative from Preera, Volvo IT, and Skandia where Swedes’ values regarding themselves, their workplaces, and society are monitored and analyzed. You can read more about the initiative via this link.

MiljöRapprten Direkt comments upon the fact that the study shows that values such as environment and sustainability have fallen on Swedes’ priority lists. Gunnel Eneroth, project manager for Sverigestudien, says the following to MiljöRapporten Direkt:

”Före finanskrisen var miljö och hållbarhet högre värderade begrepp, sedan tappade de värderingarna i betydelse och har inte hämtat sig sedan dess” (in English it would be something like ”before the financial crises, environment and sustainability were ranked higher, but they have fallen since then and not made it back”)

Personally I do however find it somewhat comforting and promising that other values which are also critical for longterm sustainability still seem to be highly ranked among Swedes:

Responsibility, justice, and honesty

To me those values are also very closely related to Corporate Responsibility (in Swedish: ”Ansvarsfullt företagande” of which you can read more on for instance). If citizens, politicians, corporate leaders and employees have such values in focus, and act accordingly, I am convinced that environmental and social sustainability will remain fundamental to our society. And values such as environment and sustainbility will once again climb on the priority lists!

Read about all the details of Sverigestudien in this pdf. It is an interesting read!

A day in the life of an environmental manager…

I have to admit that I just love a work-day like this one! This morning we will have a meeting with the local environment, health and safety (EHS) committee at the Swedish Pfizer headquarter in Sollentuna. And in the afternoon, we have a meeting with LIF’s (the association of the research based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden) environmental committee.

This means that the morning discussions are devoted to local EHS challenges such as ventilation issues, slip, trip and fall risks, ergonomic issues, and fire life safety. Issues that are very concrete and where all actions taken are visible almost directly in our local work environment. Very stimulating!

But if I, as an environmental manager in a multinational company like Pfizer, would not be challenged with more global EHS issues I would not be very satisfied in the long run. Hence, I am very pleased to participate in LIF’s environmental committee meeting later today. On the agenda we’ll find issues such as

- the proposal to include three active pharmaceutical ingredients on the list of priority substances within the EU Water Framework Directive,

- the environmental initiatives within the National Pharmaceutical Strategy, e.g.
— Sofia Wallström’s review whether or not environmental considerations should be taken in the Swedish pricing and re-imbursement system and
— the design of green criteria for pharmaceutical products and green economic incentives (i.e. the project I lead on my part time assigment at LIF)

- the All Party Committee on Environemntal Objectives and their initiatives around Pharmaceuticals and the Environment as part of their work with ”A Non-Toxic Environment”

- the Globe Forum Event on April 26, when we hope to see several interesting innovations within the field of pharmaceutucals and the environment (presumably with a focus on waste water treatment)

- the campaign on unused medicines which is ongoing at all Swedish pharmacies in March and April

Looking forward to the meetings today! It will be both fun and interesting!

If you want to read more on these issues please use the following links to some earlier blog posts: Nov 29, 2011, Jan 9, 2012Jan 24, 2012, Feb 21, 2012, and March 19, 2012.

Unused Medicines – bring them back to a pharmacy

Today is the start for a campaign regarding the importance of bringing unused medicines back to a pharmacy. The campaign runs on all Swedish pharmacies until April 16. There is also a campaign website, överblivnalä, with relevant information.

LIF, the research based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden, have issued a press release today about the campaign. Some of the content in the press release reads as follows:

Återlämna alltid överblivna läkemedel till apotek!

Behandling av sjukdomar med läkemedel har förbättrat folkhälsan radikalt.  Många av de som föds idag här i Sverige förväntas få uppleva sin 100-års dag. Det är i sanning en fantastisk utveckling. Men för att säkerställa att samhället får ut maximal nytta från läkemedel är det viktigt att all läkemedelshantering sker med god kontroll av såväl hälsoaspekter, som säkerhets- och miljöaspekter. Ett område där vi alla kan hjälpa till att minska eventuella negativa miljöeffekter är att se till att överblivna läkemedel alltid lämnas tillbaka till ett apotek. Läkemedel ska inte kastas i hushållssoporna eller spolas ner i toaletten. Om överblivna läkemedel lämnas tillbaka till apotek minskar inte bara eventuell miljöpåverkan utan risker för att läkemedel kommer på avvägar och utgör risk för exempelvis barn elimineras också.

Måndagen den 19 mars startar en nationell kampanj, bland annat på Sveriges alla apotek, för att öka medvetenheten om att överblivna läkemedel ska lämnas till apotek. LIF – de forskande läkemedelsbolagen, har varit projektledare för att utveckla kampanjen i nära samarbete med sektorns övriga intressenter…

Huvudbudskap för kampanjen är att oberoende av var någonstans man har köpt ett läkemedel, vare sig det är i dagligvaruhandeln eller på apotek, så kan överblivna läkemedel lämnas tillbaka till vilket apotek som helst. Kampanjen syftar till att öka återlämnadegraden av överblivna läkemedel till de 80% som satts som mål i den nationella läkemedelsstrategin. Kampanjen är därmed en viktig del Läkemedelsverkets projekt inom nationella läkemedelsstrategin: ”Utreda vilka ytterligare åtgärder som kan vidtas på nationell nivå för att minska kassationen av läkemedel eller på annat sätt begränsa miljöpåverkan av läkemedelsanvändning”. Undersökningar kommer genomföras i samband med kampanjen för att utröna läkemedelskonsumenters
medvetenhet i frågan men också i vilken grad de verkligen återlämnar överblivna läkemedel…

Kampanjens samarbetspartners:
Läkemedelsverket, Avfall Sverige, Sveriges kommuner och landsting (SKL), Föreningen för generiska läkemedel (FGL), Svenskt vatten, Sveriges Apoteksförening, Håll Sverige Rent, Läkemedelsdistributörsföreningen”

More on the new Swedish PiE data…

On January 10, I gave some comments here at the blog to the press release and report regarding IVL’s, Umeå University’s, and Swedish EPA’s new data regarding pharmaceutical residues in incoming waste water to waste water treatment facilities, in the effluent from those facilities, and in receving water bodies as well as in some cases also in fish. The study is ”breaking news” in today’s issue of one of Sweden’s most influencal science and engineering weekly news magazines, NyTeknik. Ny Teknik presents, in addition to a very similar discussion as was found in the original press release, also an interesting article on new waste water treatment technology experiments at Sjöstadsverket performed by scientists from IVL and KTH.

One thing that I also want to comment is that both on the front page of the NyTeknik newspaper that arrived in my mailbox this morning as well as on their website, another news article regarding pharmaceuticals is highlighted just next to the worrying news about presence of pharmaceutical residues in the environment. But this article is presented in a very ”positive” way: ”Take a pill – and skip your work-out training”. ”The work-out pill is soon a reality”…

I do often find it somewhat disturbing that reports about pharmaceuticals are either ”scary alarms” or ”magical innovative news”. It has however rarely been as clearly shown as on the front page of today’s NyTeknik… I would prefer a more balanced discussion, both regarding the worrying reports as well as the promising innovations. Life is very rarely completely black or white!

News re Pharma and the All-Party Committe on Env Objectives

The expert group on Pharmaceuticals and the Environment, working to support the All-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives, met last Friday for a final discussion on the recommendations for objectives to be delivered to the All-Party Committee. I participate in the discussions representing LIF (the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden) and I have to say that I really feel that the discussions have been open, honest, interesting and sometimes challenging. Exactly as it is supposed to be when different stakeholders meet!

Pretty much the same topics as were discussed on our meeting on November 14 were on the agenda now, and the final wording of the different proposals for objectives are being laborated upon. We will now all receive a final draft of the report including all proposed objectives allowing for our final comments. On February 1, the chairperson of the expert group, Christina Rudén, will give a presentation to the All-Party Committee. It will be very interesting to see what will remain unchanged, what will have been altered to some extent and what might even have been deleted completely when the All Party Committee publish its final report regarding the environmental objective ”A Non-Toxic Environment” on June 15…

Stay tuned… This document, together with the outcome from ongoing environmental initiatives such as the ones in the National Pharmaceutical Strategy, will be very important to set the ”Pharmaceuticals and the Environment” agenda for the coming years.