Enhancing environmental sustainability

Our commitment to environmental sustainability is an important part of how we build trust with society and is aligned with our purpose. Unless we can operate sustainably, our efforts to improve and extend people’s lives may be compromised by our environmental impact.

In 2021, we further strengthened our environmental targets by committing to become net zero in terms of climate emissions across our value chain by 2040, building on our mid- and long-term goals to become carbon neutral, plastic neutral and water sustainable. More details on our performance in 2021 can be found in our climate-related financial disclosures (TCFD). Please see our corporate website for full details of our environmental sustainability strategy.

Environmental targets

Our targets to be carbon neutral, plastic neutral and water sustainable are the central focus of our environmental sustainability strategy. In 2021, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 34% (Scope 1 and Scope 2) versus our 2016 baseline, making further progress after a 26% reduction in the previous year. We reduced water consumption by 40%, compared with 35% in 2020, and reduced waste disposal by 56%, compared with 38% in 2020 (all versus 2016 baseline figures).

Novartis environmental targets

Novartis environmental targets (Table with icons)

In addition, we achieved our goal of eliminating 17 types of single-use plastics at 132 Novartis workplaces in scope (remaining stocks are being used at some locations). For example, in the US, all single-use plastic bottles in vending machines were replaced by recyclable aluminum, glass or biodegradable containers.

To reach our emissions targets, we are reducing our energy demand and accelerating our procurement of renewable electricity. We aim to use 100% renewable electricity in our own operations by 2025. In 2021, we signed a 10-year pan-European power purchase agreement with three solar and wind developers, adding 275 megawatts of green power generation capacity to the Spanish grid by 2023.

In 2020, our own operations (Scope 1 and Scope 2) represented 9% of our overall carbon footprint (Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3). To achieve net zero carbon emissions across our value chain will therefore require a coordinated approach with our suppliers. In 2021, we launched Novartis Green Expectations from Suppliers, which requires suppliers to map out their emissions, water consumption and waste footprint baselines; understand water quality thoroughly; set targets; and report their progress. For more on how we approach environmental sustainability in our manufacturing operations and our supply chain, please see the section “Embrace operational excellence.”

In 2021, Novartis laboratories were certified by My Green Lab, a third-party framework that aims to improve environmental sustainability in laboratory settings. More than 800 Novartis researchers across 24 laboratory sites in 11 countries took part in the certification process.

Novartis sites use water for cleaning and cooling purposes, and as a solvent. To ensure the effective management of water quality, we go beyond regulatory requirements and ensure that our active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are discharged at levels that are predicted to not cause harm to the environment.

By 2030, we will expand our current water quality scope to include all effluents from API and finished dosage form production within Novartis and relevant suppliers, and become water neutral. This means ensuring the amount of water Novartis withdraws from the local environment does not contribute to the depletion of local water reserves. It entails valuing the water needs of stakeholders and the ecosystem in an equitable way.

Further details of our progress in the area of water quality and quantity are included in the CDP Water Security Report, the AMR Industry Alliance report and the Access to Medicine Foundation AMR Benchmark report.

Environmental performance indicators1

 

2021

2020

2019

Energy use – on site and purchased (million GJ)

9.77

10.85

12.75

Emissions (1 000 tCO2e)

 

 

 

GHG emissions, Scope 1, combustion and process

248.1

286.9

356.6

GHG emissions, Scope 1, vehicles

88.5

91.3

128.4

GHG emissions, Scope 2, purchased energy (market based)

310.4

338.9

404.0

GHG emissions, Scope 3, business travel2

35.5

22.0

191.3

Total GHG emissions, Scope 1 and Scope 2 (excluding offsets)3

647.0

717.1

888.9

GHG emissions offsets4

-34.7

33.6

29.8

Emissions intensity (1 000 tCO2e)

 

 

 

GHG emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2) per million USD sales

12.5

14.7

18.7

GHG emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2) per FTE

6.2

6.8

8.6

VOCs (t)

 

 

 

Halogenated volatile organic compounds

4.5

11.6

26.6

Non-halogenated volatile organic compounds

310.0

443.0

406.8

Water (million m3)

 

 

 

Water withdrawal5

47.9

54.7

66.8

Water discharged directly to aquatic environment (cooling water)

39.5

46.1

55.5

Water consumption6

7.8

8.4

11.2

Waste (1 000 t)

 

 

 

Non-hazardous waste recycled

83.9

59.9

57.7

Hazardous waste recycled

15.9

28.7

58.8

Non-hazardous waste not recycled

10.1

8.8

12.9

Hazardous waste not recycled

19.2

33.2

41.2

1

Other than where indicated, environmental data for the current year are based on actuals for January-September and estimates for October-December (to be updated with actuals in H2 2022 in our annual Novartis Environmental Sustainability and Occupational Health and Safety Data Supplement). Any significant deviations are restated the following year in the Novartis in Society Integrated Report. Previous years’ data reflect only actuals.

2

2021 data includes indirect emissions from air travel, train travel, car rentals and hotel stays. The methodology changed in 2021, with previous years’ data covering emissions from air travel only. This is part of a calculation effort to expand the Scope 3 category 6 emission activities reported and part of a wider Scope 3 calculation review that aims to increase the coverage to more than 90% of the overall Scope 3. New to 2021, air travel emissions now also cover radiative forcing, which multiplies the indirect emissions by 1.9. The published metric represents actual data from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021, which was made available on January 5, 2022. This data may be updated after the reporting date as emissions are calculated based on bookings, which may be adjusted after the reporting period. For further Scope 3 disclosures, please see our latest HSE supplement.

3

Scope 1: combustion and process, and vehicles; Scope 2: purchased energy

4

GHG offsets are based on data provided by third parties. The Santo Domingo forest carbon offset project in Argentina is due to reach maturity; as projects near this phase, routine operations involve thinning and harvesting. These operations have generated the negative GHG emissions offset value for 2021. The Santo Domingo offsets are based on January-June actual data and July-December estimates, while offsets from our Hacienda El Manatial project in Colombia are based on January-September actual data and October-December estimates (to be revised with actuals in Q1 2022). The methodology we use to measure offsets will be reviewed in 2022.

5

Sum of contact water and non-contact (cooling) water use

6

Water discharged via treatment and water lost

Sustainable medicines

Novartis is committed to embedding environmental sustainability into the design of new products, devices and packaging. We assess the environmental impact associated with all stages of a product’s life, from raw material extraction to processing, manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal. In 2020 and 2021, we conducted pilot life-cycle assessment studies for one of our respiratory dry powder inhaler devices, which showed that on average our product has a low carbon footprint compared to other products with similar published studies.

We also aim to create a culture where sustainability is embedded in the decision-making process. To this end, in 2021 we established a Green Ambassadors Network to communicate, sponsor and share sustainability initiatives between local and global teams. We also established a global network of colleagues collaborating on sustainability projects, and we offered new training modules to all employees on our environmental sustainability strategy.