Consumer health sector commits to industry-wide Environmental Charter

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Geneva, Switzerland, 25 November 2021 – The Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF) has today announced the launch of the Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care, the first global commitment from the consumer health industry to drive sustainable self-care.

The Charter aims to reduce the impact of self-care products on the environment, while ensuring better health outcomes, product safety and access to effective treatment options. Self-care products include medicines available over the counter without prescription (OTC), food supplements including minerals and vitamins, and self-care medical devices.

Consumer health sector commits to industry-wide Environmental Charter

GSCF members, including consumer health manufacturers and associations, have made a range of commitments as part of the Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care, based on their individual sustainability programs. The Charter is focused on aggregating individual commitments and supporting collective actions, focusing on three priority areas where the industry has the greatest impact and influence: Plastics and Packaging, Pharmaceuticals in the Environment and CO2 Footprint.

Members have pledged to reduce plastics and packaging wherever possible, striving for circular design in self-care products, from design to end-of-life. The industry continues to take measures to reduce the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment, which include promoting the safe disposal of unused medication for example via take-back schemes. With respect to carbon, GSCF members and the broader industry are adopting emissions reduction targets that accelerate the transition to the low carbon economy, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Judy Stenmark, Director General at GSCF, said, “Voluntary and proactive action across the consumer health industry is essential to find urgent, sustainable solutions to address the sector’s environmental impact. That’s why I am very pleased to see the Charter come to fruition at a time when we are truly seeing a collective global movement from business to address sustainability, both through making tangible commitments and delivering on them. The Charter provides an ambitious platform for all our members globally to drive innovation in sustainability.”

The Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care acknowledges that sustainability and human health and well-being are inextricably linked. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that environmental stressors are responsible for 12–18% of all deaths in the 53 countries of the WHO Europe Region. Environmental pollutants are linked to respiratory illnesses, cancer, mental health conditions and minor ailments such as headaches and coughs.

“Minimizing the impact of self-care products on the environment while safeguarding access to effective treatment and well-being options for people is a critical issue for the consumer health industry. Member companies have already embarked on the sustainability journey individually; with the Charter we establish a platform for good practice sharing and collaboration with an objective to create collective actions and move the needle forward,” commented Jurate Svarcaite, Director General at AESGP.