Walgreens Becomes Founding Sponsor of Sustainable Medicines Partnership

Initiative aims to reduce carbon footprint of medications
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Walgreens pharmacy
A new joint partnership aims to find ways to make medicine more sustainable.

In an effort to help make the use of medicines more sustainable and less wasteful, Walgreens has joined the Sustainable Medicines Partnership as a founding sponsor. The four-year initiative will aim to deliver evidence-based projects that include scalable solutions, frameworks, standards, metrics and implementation toolkits.

The partnership has outlined six pillars of sustainable medicines that will inform the integrated projects: measurable impacts, end-to-end visibility, better shelf life, digital by default, every dose use and sustainable packaging. Walgreens will be part of the partnership’s steering committee, and as such will approve measurable outcomes and impacts defined by the partnership and in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Walgreens is committed to the safe disposal of medications, and we are proud to advance those efforts through this initiative,” said Rick Gates, SVP. pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens. “As a founding member of the Sustainable Medicines Partnership, we can explore ways together to provide more equitable access to medicines, reduce the environmental impact from packaging and further programs to decrease waste from medications.”

The partnership also includes pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, policy makers, patient groups, academia and other stakeholders. According to Walgreens, those member organizations will work to measure the carbon footprint of medicines and to find opportunities to optimize waste reduction. 

Walgreens launched a safe medication disposal program in 2016 and since then has properly disposed of more than 3 million pounds, or 1,550 tons, of unwanted or unused medication.

Additionally, as the flu season ramps up, Walgreens is offering incentives to patients opting to get vaccinated. Through December, the retailer will give a $5 Walgreens Cash reward to customers receiving any vaccine at one of its pharmacy locations. 

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, which operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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