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Access to clean water is critical for human health and is a key input to our manufacturing operations.



As we strive to meet the health needs of our patients, we are increasingly operating in regions of the world where access to clean water and proper sanitation is under great pressure. Even in established markets, our business faces water-related risks.

Our global water strategy aims to achieve sustainable water management within our operations and our supply chain, which supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, “Clean Water and Sanitation.” To achieve these strategic objectives, we are focusing on the following commitments:

  • Ensuring that our wastewater discharges comply with local and national standards, as well as internal company requirements
  • Understanding and controlling our operational water footprint
  • Managing water risk at our facilities and in our supply chain
  • Reporting publicly on our water use and goals
By 2020, we will develop water conservation plans for sites in “high water risk” locations.On track
On Track
By 2025, we will maintain global water use at or below 2015 levels.3.5 million m3 below 2015 levels (15% reduction)
On Track

Global water use and risk—percentage by region

We have established water goals to help us manage water-related risks in our operations and supply chain:

  • Maintain global water use at or below 2015 levels through 2025
  • Implement water conservation plans for internal sites in “high water risk” locations by 2020. In 2018, we successfully completed one site water-use assessment and we are targeting additional facilities to develop water-use management plans in 2019.
  • Supply chain:
    • In 2018, we collected water-use data from 93 percent of our strategic suppliers with the highest environmental impacts to help us better understand the amount of water used in our supply chain
    • By 2020, we will engage with those suppliers and request that they identify water-use reduction opportunities
    • By 2025, ≥ 90 percent of our strategic suppliers with the highest environmental impacts will set their own water-use reduction targets


All of our facilities are required to implement an internal Environmental Quality Criteria (EQC) program for controlling active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) discharges into the environment.

Each facility uses internal EQC standards to:

  • Assess the potential risk from its operations using science-based and industry-accepted risk assessment methods;
  • Minimize environmental impacts; and
  • Establish procedures for managing APIs in wastewater

Our production facilities have, or will be provided with, API-treatment technology where needed, so that our wastewater discharges meet these internal standards.

In addition, as a member of the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Industry Alliance and signatory to the Industry Roadmap for Progress on Combating AMR, we are working to deliver on our commitments to reduce the environmental impacts from antibiotic residues in wastewater.

Over the past several years, we have committed $121 million from a dedicated water infrastructure improvement fund to projects that include API treatment systems as well as water-use reduction technologies. Examples of API treatment systems installed at our manufacturing sites include evaporation and ozonation. Evaporation systems separate and concentrate API containing wastewater from a distillate stream. Ozonation systems are designed to treat API by oxidation.

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

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 those in pumps

Our sites employ a variety of technologies and techniques aimed at reducing our water footprint and improving operational performance. Closed-loop cooling systems, which reduce freshwater use, are employed at more than half of our facilities worldwide. Reverse osmosis (RO) “reject water” is reused for non-potable and non-process applications such as cooling-tower feed water and fire water. In all, more than one million cubic meters of water are recovered, reused or recycled at our facilities, which is equivalent to six percent of the total water that is withdrawn.

CEO Water Mandate
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.

CEO Water Mandate endorsers have a responsibility to make water-resource management a priority and to work with governments, UN agencies, nongovernmental 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. These projects also support the goals of SDG 15, which strives to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.”

The Nature Conservancy
In 2018, we supported the Nature Conservancy’s Mexico City Water Fund with a $100,000 donation. The Fund was created to alleviate the serious groundwater depletion in and around Mexico City, where our Xochimilco facility is located, by restoring and conserving natural areas that recharge the city’s aquifers. The Fund will also create efficiencies in the supply networks and the reuse of wastewater, which will reduce the pressure on groundwater sources.

Our 2017 contribution of $100,000 to the Nature Conservancy’s Atchafalaya River Basin Initiative near our facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped to protect a critically important freshwater system that supplies drinking water for the area and also provides flood protection for millions of Americans. Our funding enabled land acquisition and restoration, advanced scientific monitoring and understanding of the area and supported community outreach through the development of a floating research and education center.

PHoto of a drop of water


In 2018, we used 20.5 million cubic meters of water globally, versus 24.0 million cubic meters in 2015, representing a 15 percent reduction in water use. Water use increased slightly from 2017 to 2018 due to an equipment replacement project at one of our major facilities, which resulted in additional water use during the changeover. Water use at this facility is expected to decrease from 2018 levels in the coming years.

Approximately 63 percent of the total water we used in 2018 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) Aqueduct water-risk-assessment tool to measure and map our water risks. Sites are categorized using the “Baseline Water Stress” indicator, which is the ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available annual renewable supply, and accounts for upstream consumptive use. Higher stress values indicate more competition among water users.

In 2018, we operated 11 manufacturing and/or research facilities in areas with “extremely high” Baseline Water Stress, according to the WRI’s Aqueduct tool. Our manufacturing facilities that use the most water are located in areas of “medium to high” or “high” Baseline Water Stress and are located in the U.S.

We are assessing our facilities located in areas of “extremely high” and “high” Baseline Water Stress to determine if more extensive water management plans are needed. We are also working to identify “hot spots” of water use within our supply chain so that we can engage with our suppliers on the issue of water risk.

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 63 percent of the wastewater from our manufacturing plants is treated on-site before being discharged into rivers or other surface-water bodies. The remaining 37 percent is sent to local municipal wastewater-treatment facilities that have the technology and capacity to treat our wastewater.

World map showing water use and risk by region: North America 78%, Asia Pacific 6%, Latin America 1%, Europe Middle East Africa 14%
Europe Middle East Africa water use and risk, with data in table below
Asia Pacific water use and risk, with data in table below
North American water use and risk, with data in table below
Latin America water use and risk, with data in table below
Global Water UseEurope, Middle East, Africa : Global Water UseAsia Pacific : Global Water UseNorth America : Global Water UseLatin America : Global Water Use
WATER USE & RISK BY REGION (M3)Extremely High High Med to High Low to Med Low NA % of Total Total
North America3.00 2.59 10.42 0 <0.01 0.04 78% 16.06
Europe, Middle East and Africa 0.03 0.32 0.27 0.68 1.41 0.21 14% 2.93
Asia Pacific0.78 0.01 0.12 0 0.08 0.22 6% 1.22
Latin America0 0.05 0 0.07 0.11 0.06 1% 0.29
Total13.82 2.98 10.81 0.75 1.61 0.53 100% 20.50
NA: Categorization Not Available.
1 The total is less than 100 percent due to rounding.
WATER USE & RISK BY REGION (%)Extremely High High Med to High Low to Med Low NA
North America 19% 16% 65% 0% 0% 0%
Europe, Middle East and Africa1% 11% 9% 23% 48% 7%
Asia Pacific64% 1% 10% 0% 6% 18%
Latin America0% 18% 0% 24% 37% 20%
Total19% 15% 53% 4% 8% 3%
NA: Categorization Not Available.
WATER USE BY SOURCE (MILLION M3)12014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Pumped water (surface water and groundwater)18.9 16.2 13.6 13.0 12.8
Purchased water7.9 7.8 7.1 6.6 7.7
Total26.9 24.0 20.7 19.6 20.5
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.