Environmental Sustainability

Our business, our suppliers, our communities and our customers need access to clean water.

Our global water strategy aims to achieve sustainable water management within our operations and our supply chain. Water-use reduction is also one of our three environmental performance goals.

To achieve these strategic objectives, we are focusing on five specific commitments:

  • Ensuring our wastewater discharges comply with local and national standards, as well as internal company requirements
  • Understanding and reducing our operational water footprint
  • Reporting publicly on our water use and goals
  • Advocating for effective water policy
  • Encouraging and empowering our employees to be water stewards at work, at home and in their local communities

Wastewater from our facilities is managed and treated to meet regulatory standards and minimize environmental impacts. We operate wastewater-treatment plants at many of our production and research facilities. Approximately 65 percent of the wastewater from our manufacturing plants is treated on-site before being discharged to rivers or other surface-water bodies, with the balance going to local municipal wastewater-treatment facilities that have the technology and capacity to treat our wastewater.

All of our facilities are required to meet an internal Environmental Quality Criteria (EQC) program which ensures that our discharges are protective of human health and the environment, based on criteria established in accordance with stringent regulatory review processes. Based on these EQC criteria, each facility assesses the potential risk from their operations, minimizes impacts using industry accepted risk assessment methods and establishes procedures for managing and controlling active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). In addition, production facilities have, or are being provided with, API-treatment technology to ensure that our wastewater meets these internal standards.

As we strive to meet the health needs of our patients, we are increasingly operating in regions of the world where clean water and sanitation are under great strain. Even in established markets, our business faces water-related risks. Our water initiatives and performance are further explained in the tabs above. Click on the links below for related information about:


We are engaged in numerous initiatives worldwide to reduce our water use and to understand the water-related risks and impacts in our upstream supply chain.

Our internal Environmental Standard for Water requires each of our sites to assess the impact of their operations on the local watershed, assure compliance, and drive continuous improvement in how water is used and the quality of water discharged. Our Energy Center of Excellence includes the total cost of water in energy-project evaluations and drives best practices that conserve both energy and water.

Our water-reduction projects in Pennsylvania and Virginia are saving approximately 1.5B gallons of water annually.

Our water-use-reduction initiatives include:

  • Consideration of water use in process design
  • Cooling-system optimization
  • Prompt repairs and maintenance of steam-distribution systems and traps
  • Recovery and reuse of steam condensate and “reject water”
  • Process-water purification-system optimization
  • Avoiding the use of water in mechanical seals, such as in pumps

In addition, our facility in Singapore uses “NEWater” from the public utility company, which is treated, used water that has been reclaimed for non-potable use in industrial and cooling applications.

Our sites employ a variety of technologies and techniques aimed at reducing our water footprint and improving operational performance:

  • Closed-loop cooling systems are employed at more than half our facilities worldwide and reduce our freshwater use by more than 500 million gallons
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) “reject water” is reused for non-potable and non-process applications such as cooling-tower feed water and fire water

Over the past several years, we have committed $95 million of our $111 million water-infrastructure-improvement initiative to install API-treatment technology and reduce water use at eight facilities. The remainder of this water fund is expected to be committed by 2018.

Facility-specific projects:

  • Our Danville, Pennsylvania, site in the United States recently completed a water-reduction project that will save approximately 1 billion gallons of water per year while reducing operating costs by $600,000 annually. The project included reducing the use of once-through cooling water, installing an upgraded closed-loop cooling system and fitting cooling water distribution pumps with variable frequency drives.
  • Our Elkton, Virginia, site in the United States recently completed a water reduction project that saves approximately 465 million gallons of water per year, generates 40 kWh of recovered energy and saves $500,000 annually.

Click here to learn more about our water-use-reduction initiatives.

We have endorsed the UN CEO Water Mandate, a public commitment to adopt and implement a comprehensive approach to water management, and we have aligned our water program with its principles.

The CEO Water Mandate endorsers have a responsibility to make water-resources management a priority and to work with governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, local communities and other interested parties to address global water challenges. We are working to identify partnerships that will help us advance our water stewardship priorities in the areas in which we operate.


Global Water Use & Risk – Percentage by Region

2015 Water Use and Risk by Region (billion gallons)
HighMed to HighLow to MedLowN/A% of TotalTotal
North America0.034.800.14--0.0380%5.00
Europe, Middle East
and Africa
Asia Pacific0.190.050.02--0.065%0.32
Latin America 0.020.03--0.021%0.06
N/A: Categorization was not available.
Water Risk (billion gallons)1
Extremely high risk0000000
High risk0.
Medium to high risk7.
Low to medium risk0.
Low risk0.
Not Available0.
Note: 2014 figures have been restated.
1 In accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, prior-year data have been adjusted to add or remove facilities that have been acquired and sold. Adjustments also reflect changes in methodology to ensure consistency from year to year.
2 World Resources Institute, Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas Overall Water Risk.

In 2015, the completion of several water-saving projects, combined with reduced demand across our manufacturing network, contributed to a water-use reduction of 0.8 billion gallons from 2014. In 2015, we used 6.3 billion gallons of water versus 8.8 billion gallons used in 2009. This reflects a 29 percent reduction in water use over this period, which has allowed us to meet our 2020 water goal five years early.

Water Use by Source
Water Use by Source Details (billion gallons)12009201020112012201320142015
Pumped water (surface water and groundwater)
Purchased water2.
Note: 2014 figures have been restated.
1 In accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, prior-year data have been adjusted to add or remove facilities that have been acquired and sold. Adjustments also reflect changes in methodology to ensure consistency from year to year.

Approximately 67 percent of the total water we used in 2015 was supplied from nearby surface water and groundwater resources, with the balance sourced from municipal water supplies. Many of our facilities employ water reuse and recovery strategies, including recirculation of water in cooling towers and condensate recovery.

We use the World Resources Institute’s (WRI’s) water-risk-assessment tool called “Aqueduct” to measure and map our water risks. The overall risk score relies on 12 different measures grouped into three categories: physical risk quantity (seven measures), physical risk quality (two measures) and regulatory and reputational risk (three measures), which are combined to generate an overall water-risk score.

In 2015, we operated six manufacturing and/or research facilities in areas of high overall water risk. These facilities are located in Singapore, Indonesia and Puerto Rico. Our manufacturing facilities that use the most water are located in areas of medium to high overall water risk and are located in the U.S.