Pharmacy’s Role in Climate Action and Sustainable Healthcare

Ahead of COP26, we've created a series of policies calling on industry, Governments across Great Britain and pharmacy teams to implement change to reduce the environmental impact of medicines.

Medicines are the most widely deployed healthcare intervention and are responsible for 25 per cent of the NHS’s carbon emissions. This means pharmacists and pharmacy teams have a clear role to play in combating climate change. However, pharmacy cannot do this alone: that’s we're calling on other stakeholders to work with us to tackle the climate emergency.

The four areas we have focused on are:

  • Improving prescribing and medicines use
  • Tackling medicines waste
  • Preventing ill health
  • Infrastructure and ways of working

RPS President Claire Anderson said: “The role of the pharmacist and the pharmacy team in preventing illness, optimising medicines and reducing pharmaceutical waste already reduces the impact of medicines on the climate.

“There’s significant workload pressure on pharmacy teams right now but there are small changes in the way we work where pharmacists and pharmacy teams can make a difference. Our sustainability policy supports pharmacy teams to pave the way for change and to lead the way in climate action within healthcare.

“Pharmacy can have an impact on every stage of the life cycle of a medicine, from design and development, marketing authorisation to production, post- authorisation, health technology assessment, prescription and consumption and finally waste disposal.”

Last month we released our Declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergency, which acknowledged that far from being simply an environmental issue, the climate emergency is the most significant health threat that modern society has ever faced.

Read about some of the innovative ideas and projects from across pharmacy in Great Britain; from managing wastewater in Scotland, to thinking about nitrous oxide in Wales, with these RPS blogs.

Read the RPS sustainability policy

Register for our sustainability policies virtual launch on Wednesday November 3 at 7.30pm

Keep up to date with what we are doing during COP26 on the RPS website.