For Novartis responsible water management means minimizing our water footprint along the entire materials supply chain, and avoiding potential risks related to pharmaceuticals reaching the natural environment. We aim to be a water steward wherever we operate, working to achieve water sustainability and helping ensure sufficient and safe water. Our 2025 goal is to reduce water consumption in our operations by half versus 2016, with no water quality impacts from manufacturing effluents. By 2030, we aim to be water neutral in all areas of our operations, while actively enhancing water quality wherever we operate.
Novartis recognizes that water is a valuable resource which needs to be used responsibly particularly in regions of the world where water is scarce. Water recycling and practices of water savings are therefore a priority for our operations. We closely monitor all water streams into and out of our sites, which helps ensure effective management of water resources and costs. Sites are encouraged to use water from underground or surface sources for cooling because this can save energy in areas where water is abundant. However, we take care to do this in a sustainable way and without impact to the environment.
A major area of concern on water quality is the prevention of pharmaceuticals entering the aquatic environment. The majority of pharmaceuticals in the environment are a result of excretions of treated patients and improper disposal of unused or expired medicine. However, relatively small quantities can come from drug manufacturing effluents and R&D facilities. We regularly monitor the levels of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in Novartis effluents and in the aquatic environment as a result of Novartis activities. Since 2016, all sites generating wastewater, which potentially includes APIs, conduct a detailed assessment of their effluent and implement mitigation plans, where relevant.
All new products undergo a regulatory assessment for potential long-term environmental risks and our legacy products run through a targeted assessment to prioritize pharmaceuticals for further environmental testing. In addition, Novartis participates in the Intelligent Assessment of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, a project (funded by Innovative Medicines Initiative) which is developing a framework to identify the potential risk of pharmaceuticals to the natural environment and methods to perform appropriate environmental assessments. This predictive tool will be applicable for new and existing products and will support the continuous scientific and political discussion worldwide.
Novartis also recommends to patients and consumers of pharmaceutical and medicinal products to dispose of any unused or expired medicinal product or waste material in accordance with local requirements as well as disposal instructions on the patient information materials provided with the product.