Climate change, sustainability, global warming, climate emergency and recycling are all words we have seen recently. What is clear however, is that there is a climate emergency and pharmacy has to play its part in helping achieve the United Nations target of a 1.5 degree Celsius reduction in global warming by 2030.
The RPS has recently made big strides in becoming a sustainable organisation by divesting it’s non-green funds, improving recycling, moving The Pharmaceutical Journal online only and reducing the use of paper and plastics.
Any newly elected English Pharmacy Board members have to ensure the RPS is constantly increasing its sustainability efforts, including issuing guidance to RPS members and non members in their daily professional practice.
Simple measures would include discussing with NHS bodies to work to reduce the amount of paper used in producing dispensing tokens for the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in England. It could actually be argued we use more paper with EPS than we ever did with the old paper-based FP10 prescription regime.
I have done my little bit for sustainability, such as giving up red meat for long periods of time, which can significantly decrease your carbon footprint, and using public transport where possible. Pharmacists and other pharmacy staff can be given updated guidance by the RPS on little things they could do regularly to help our planet.
The RPS can use its connections with pharmaceutical manufacturers and industrial pharmacy to ensure manufacturing processes and delivery of pharmaceuticals are as green as possible, reducing wastage and improve the management of waste and environmental footprint reduction, by ensuring local availability of medicines as close to patients workplaces or home addresses as possible.
In community and hospital pharmacy, pharmacy teams can ensure medicines and waste disposal procedures are as green as possible. It’s a lot of people doing little things that make a big difference — I once had a young man who anytime he came to collect his two Ventolin evohalers made sure he returned the pharmacy paper bag and the cardboard box his inhalers came in — we got so used to it we started only ever handing his inhalers to him minus the paper bag.
In academia, the RPS can ensure sustainability is on the curriculum for pharmacy undergraduates, foundation trainee pharmacists and practising pharmacists. In general practice pharmacy, pharmacists can work with their practices to ensure sustainable practices are followed.
Adebayo Adegbite, English Pharmacy Board candidate