Thursday, December 19, 2013

BioProcess International: Sustainability in Bioprocessing

Today we feature an excerpt from an article by Cheryl Scott, Senior Technical Editor of BioProcess International regarding The Sustainability in Bioprocessing.

The concept of sustainability has evolved over the past few decades to describe conditions for harmonious coexistence of industry and nature while meeting socioeconomic requirements of present and future generations. For this environmentally focused report, I like the simple definition offered by Armstrong International, a provider of steam, air, and hot water systems that improve utility performance, lower energy consumption, and reduce environmental emissions. According to a brochure that in part describes its work with Pfizer, Armstrong defines this concept as “meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations.”

In theory, that may imply an “either–or” situation: That is, either a facility/process is sustainable, or it isn't. (And you could argue, then, that nothing truly is.) But in practice, moving from an unsustainable past toward a sustainable future in business is more of a continuum as companies take steps toward more environmental responsibility over time. Many are beginning to understand that considering the environment doesn't have to add cost; it can improve efficiencies as well as public perceptions by decreasing use of materials and reducing negative environmental impacts, ultimately increasing shareholder value over the long term. Relatively sustainable development can be accomplished by understanding the flow and costs (more than simply financial) of all process inputs and outputs, building systems that can adapt to changing needs, anticipating and managing variability and risk, all while earning a profit. 

Biopharmaceutical manufacturing is no stranger to regulatory concerns. All facilities must at least go through the motions of basic environmental assessment to meet EPA and local requirements. But 21st-century business is placing increased emphasis on sustainability, due not only to public pressure, but also a world of decreasing resources. This special report considers how the bioprocessing industry is beginning to incorporate related ideas into its processes and facilities. What degree of sustainability is realistic to strive for? What hidden costs of not modernizing do companies tend to miss in their evaluations, and what are the real economic advantages of going green? How are companies comparing “apples to oranges” costs of, for example, water for injection (WFI) production and clean/steam-in-place operations with those incurred in securing an uninterrupted source of disposable materials? Where are the tradeoffs specific to various methods of disposal, and how are they to be evaluated? And what lessons can the US biotech industry learn from attention paid to this topic by many European companies and regulatory agencies? 

You can view the full article here.

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