Creating Bricks and Benches Out of Medical Waste

Apr 22, 2017 10:00 AM ET

Creating bricks and benches out of medical waste

There’s no way around it: researching and manufacturing life-saving medicines and vaccines produces waste. At GSK, we are changing our manufacturing processes to cut in half the amount of operational waste we generate by 2020, and shifting our perceptions to see waste as a potential resource.

Around the world

Our global operations produced 137,000 tons of waste in 2016 – 4% less than the previous year and 23% below our 2010 baseline. The majority of this waste (73%) was recycled or incinerated to recover energy, with only 5% sent to landfill. Around 70% of our sites have now achieved zero waste to landfill by repurposing materials that would otherwise go to waste or by using waste-to-energy services.

In the US

In the US, as we deliver on GSK’s global commitments, we are also striving to eliminate the disposal of our operational waste to landfills and improve the amount that is disposed of beneficially.

An example of a beneficial disposal is at our North American R&D hub in Upper Providence, PA (UP). UP labs are outfitted with the latest technology for cutting-edge scientific research and discovery (we call them “SMART Labs”) but these labs create more concentrated amounts of regulated medical lab waste.

Asali, who leads lab services and waste management in the US, helps us think differently about waste and see it as a potential resource. Together with a team, Asali is putting “UP” in UPcycling. Instead of being incinerated, the lab waste stream is now being treated and turned into park benches and bricks.

“At GSK, we think differently about waste and see it as a potential resource. Our medical lab waste at our Upper Providence R&D site is upcycled into park benches and bricks. And our scientists not only help people do more, feel better, and live longer—they also provide a place to relax!” (Asali, Service Owner, Lab Services and Waste Management)

More information

This article is part of a series on our responsible business in the US

We aim to reduce environmental impacts across our value chain while extending access to our products for the people who need them – by minimizing our carbon footprint, reducing local water impacts and cutting operational waste. Learn more about our global commitments and progress for Our Planet