Pfizer shows sustainability/cost balance at packaging plant

Out to prove you can have your cake and eat it, too, Pfizer has upgraded its largest manufacturing and packaging facility for process optimization and made sustainability improvements that yielded cost savings. The feat earned the drug giant a facility of the year award from Pharmaceutical Processing, ISPE and Interphex.

Pfizer planners developed the so-called SPRING-E MAP, the strategic plant restructuring energy master plan, to keep a balance between sustainability and project cost. The Freiburg, Germany-based plant produced 8 billion tablets and capsules and packaged into 230 million packs in one year.

The plan comprised five major projects and more than 200 smaller projects all aimed at cost and energy efficiency. Among them: geothermal heating and cooling of buildings, use of biomass steam and biomass absorption cooling for manufacturing and packaging; and adiabatic cooling for labs. Photovoltaic technology helped provide electricity.

Among results so far is an 80% drop in greenhouse gas emissions--far surpassing the EU's 20% target by 2020--and 91% of the site's energy generation from renewable sources. The feat is all the more remarkable given that it's a facility rehab rather than a new-build project. Some new sustainability technologies were wiped off the board initially for that reason, increasing the challenge to project planners.

Pfizer is recognized for its environmental achievements by many of the energy and sustainability tracking organizations. Our recent "greenest companies" report notes the drugmakers re-use of construction materials and its waste-minimization efforts.

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