(458b) Towards 3-Fold Sustainability in Biopharmaceutical Supply Chains | AIChE

(458b) Towards 3-Fold Sustainability in Biopharmaceutical Supply Chains


Sarkis, M. - Presenter, Imperial College London
Papathanasiou, M., Imperial College London
Shah, N., Imperial College London
Fyfe, A., The Sargent Centre for Process Systems Engineering
Liew, K., Imperial College London
Rider, I., Imperial College London
Bernardi, A., Imperial College London
Fung, J., Imperial College London
Lee, M. H., Imperial College London
The biopharmaceutical industry is uniquely placed to create value for society, by improving disease outcomes. Recent innovations in targeted and personalized healthcare are paving the way to cure life-threatening diseases; as more therapies reach market approval, manufacturers should carefully orchestrate and expand resources to make supplies meet forecasted demands. In this context, capacity planning activities are driven towards manufacturing strategies that decrease therapy costs and maximize product availability to those in need.

Awareness of environmental sustainability of supply chain operations in the life science sector is becoming increasingly relevant [1]. Biopharmaceutical process steps are water and energy intensive while pollutants are emitted during distribution. Manufacturing platforms often rely on stainless steel or single-use equipment, which production and procurement activities also utilize resources and have associated environmental impacts [2]. During operation, selecting stainless steel would require the use of high-pressure steam for sterilization, whereby adopting single-use equipment translates in disposal of plastic waste at the end of each campaign or batch. Therapy manufacturers will face pressures from governmental agencies to improve sustainability and demonstrate green credentials of raw material suppliers, which highlights a need to quantify the environmental footprints of different manufacturing setups and minimize them where possible, thereby complying with the set 2030 Net Zero targets [3]. In this space, computer-aided decision-making can help assess trade-offs and design cost-effective supply chains (economic sustainability) with minimized environmental footprints (environmental sustainability), which ensure product availability for the population (social sustainability).

In this work, we demonstrate how 3-fold sustainability improvements in pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution can be achieved, whereby economic, social, and environmental objectives are considered. We integrate the pharmaceutical supply chain investment and operational planning problem with life cycle assessment (LCA), focusing on emerging biopharmaceutical products (Figure 1). We present a mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) framework, which considers a set of candidate network nodes, demands, costs, operational capabilities, material intensity, transport emissions and indices and determines candidate supply chain structures, operational plans and selects suitable process equipment technologies.

Candidate supply chain structures are assessed with respect to the KPIs of (i) cost, (ii) product availability and (iii) environmental score, with the latter integrating environmental impacts related to emissions, water usage, human health, and energy consumption. The ε-constraint method is implemented to construct a Pareto frontier of candidate manufacturing setups. This enables insights into the trade-offs of financial and environmental sustainability and highlights opportunities brought by distributed manufacturing and selection of plastics-based single-use versus stainless steel equipment. A sensitivity analysis is performed to assess the impact of assumed weights and operational uncertainty on the results of the optimization.


[1] European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) (2022), Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability

[2] World Steel Association (2020), Life cycle assessment in the steel industry

[3] HM Government (2021), Life Science Vision Report


Funding from the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the Future Targeted Healthcare Manufacturing Hub hosted at University College London with UK university partners is gratefully acknowledged (Grant Reference: EP/P006485/1). Financial and in-kind support from the consortium of industrial users and sector organizations is also acknowledged.