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AstraZeneca hopes to make clinical trial operations carbon-negative by 2030

AstraZeneca has big plans to become carbon-negative by 2030, including collecting human samples obtained in clinical trials.

The company is working with its collaborators, including sites and suppliers to ensure the entire chain footprint is compliant with the company’s ambition.

Abi Hunter, senior director of clinical sampling, spoke at the Arena International Outsourcing in Clinical Trials UK and Ireland conference in London on 6 September about the company’s ambitious plans with hopes that other Big Pharma companies may consider following suit.

Ms Hunter said: “There’s no reason that all these things we’re doing can’t be industry-wide. There’s a real opportunity here as an industry to really drive change as a whole.”

There are a number of ways in which the company is working to achieve its goal, following a four-step plan of design, collect, use and store.

Ms Hunter said: “We know clinical samples have a huge carbon footprint. From the single-use plastics to the dry ice to ship samples to their transport, it has a huge impact on the carbon footprint study. While change is definitely on the horizon, they’re not here now but we have sustainability goals to deliver on now.”

The company is making improvements by reducing the number of clinical samples taken, minimising kit miles, using multiuse lab kids, reducing transport emissions by working with green transport providers, investing in new freezers and recovering unused sample collection components.

Ms Hunter noted that currently any waste components from clinical trial sites are either sent to landfill or incinerated.

Ms Hunter added: “It’s a travesty and whoever can figure out a mechanism to recover those components to make that sustainable, they will revolutionise how we look at the market.”

The company added that it understands it will never have no waste but Ms Hunter mentioned that it is important for pharma to take accountability where it can.

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