Turning waste into a resource

In 2010 we were sending some 17,200 tonnes of waste to landfill. So, we set a target - to achieve ‘zero waste to landfill’ at all our sites by 2020. Already, over 60% of GSK sites and offices have achieved the target.

Instead of going to landfill, we see waste more as a resource and divert it - where we can - to other uses. This is because, as well as environmental benefits, there are considerable economic and social benefits to be gained, too. Here are just a handful of examples from some of our sites around the globe:

  • We compost 1,500 tonnes per year of egg waste generated from manufacturing flu vaccine at our Sainte Foy site in Canada. Instead of sending it to landfill, the egg waste is mixed with other green waste and sold as compost.

  • We send packaging waste from our Poznan site in Poland to make construction material for waterproof flooring. 

  • We send for composting all rejected tablets from Americas Number 1 antacid, Tums, from our St Louis site, Missouri, US.

  • We generate enough green gas for six local families thanks to using the food waste from our Mount Lavinia site in Sri Lanka.

  • We re-use refrigerated packaging from shipping vaccines as an insulation material for the construction industry.

Our Site Environmental Health & Safety Director in Rockville, Maryland, Mike Cakouros said: “Aiming for - and ultimately achieving - zero waste to landfill here was not done to save money. We did it because it was the right thing to do for our community and a clear example of us living by our values. Rather than going to landfill, approximately 70% of our non-hazardous waste goes to creating energy for the broader community. The remainder is recycled. The cost of incinerating waste to turn into energy is actually higher than landfill but is the right thing to do for the environment and for GSK.”

When speaking to the 60% of sites who have already hit the target, they told us that very little - if any - extra operational or capital expenditure was required. What was important was to conduct waste mapping exercises to identify and prioritise the different types of waste and work with local suppliers to source the most environmentally appropriate outcomes. Of course, ideally, we want to create less waste in the first place, but where there is waste, we want to use it as a resource and maximise its potential to create value.

Our Head of Global Environmental Sustainability, Matt Wilson, sums up the success so far and what we are doing now: “The fact that 60% of our sites have achieved zero waste to landfill already means that resource efficiency is becoming a way of thinking and good practice here at GSK. We now want to increase recycling and find more ways of diverting waste and other resources we no longer need to organisations which can use them. So, we are now sharing best practice across our network and encouraging collaboration, both across our sites and with other businesses.”

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