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Why data is key for more sustainable logistics and a healthier future

By Paula Pulsoni, Giulia Ferrati

In recent years, a growing number of pharmaceutical companies have begun to recognize that they have a responsibility to better integrate their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts into their business and operating models. Increasingly, the entire sector is understanding that creating better health outcomes for all patients begins with sustaining the health of our planet and managing the industry’s collective impact on society and the environment.

Every partner along the commercial drug manufacturing and distribution continuum must identify the best ways to minimize the collective impact of the supply chain on the environment. The industry’s logistics providers are not excluded. How can more sustainable operations from logistics partners and supply chain be achieved? Enhanced data analytics may hold the key to more sustainable logistics operations.

To find out more, we talked to Giulia Ferrati, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at AmerisourceBergen, and World Courier’s Paula Pulsoni, Senior Director of Clinical Supply Solutions. World Courier is part of the AmerisourceBergen family of companies. We covered - corporate policy, smart operations, and effective data analytics that can help identify efficiencies and opportunities to optimize the environmental and social footprint of the entire enterprise in support of ESG goals. 

World Courier: Why is corporate social responsibility such an important issue for pharma and its logistics partners?

Giulia Ferrati:  As an industry, we have a responsibility to leverage our position and value in society to drive positive change in every possible way. As an enterprise providing enabling services and technologies to the world’s leading pharmaceutical developers, the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability function of World Courier’s parent AmerisourceBergen, drives sustainability projects and thinking across the entire organization. It also measures our impact to ensure that, as a commercial enterprise, we meet stakeholders’ expectations.

World Courier: The logistics operations pharma engages to distribute drugs and advanced therapeutic medicinal products require both facilities and vehicles to accomplish. These assets are resource and energy-intensive. Regarding operations, could you describe World Courier’s sustainability strategy?

Giulia Ferrati: The environmental agenda is playing an increasingly important role in guiding corporate and business-unit operations. In June 2021, AmerisourceBergen committed to set Science-Based Targets in line with Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) guidance.

Targets are considered “science-based” if they align with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5°C. These climate action targets provide a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the impact of operations on the environment and society, and future-proof business for sustained growth.

World Courier: What projects are priority for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability?

Giulia Ferrati: While climate change presents several risks to our business, we also see significant opportunity to adapt and innovate our strategies to continue to deliver on our promise while doing our part to protect the planet. We are working to tackle our scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Energy management is critical to sustainability and an area of continuous improvement as we work to deploy efficiency measures across the organization. By implementing efficiency projects such as equipment upgrades and automation technologies that can increase our operational efficiencies, we can serve more customers while reducing our resource consumption. There is also significant opportunity in developing a robust and comprehensive renewable energy program to increase our use of renewable resources as we make further progress towards our commitments and work to achieve our science-based target. In FY21, nearly 20% of our global electricity usage was from renewable sources.

Another area we are looking at is our transport network: we have conducted route optimization audits in the markets where we operate in order to maximize efficiency and reduce environmental impact of transport. This includes using transport management systems to ensure routes taken are efficient; we are looking into alternative fuel options to reduce our environmental impact.

World Courier: Paula, from your perspective as Senior Director Clinical Supply Solutions for World Courier, how does the business unit approach and support its ESG obligations – to AmerisourceBergen and society?

Paula Pulsoni: As a company, we see this as an opportunity to elevate our impact on healthier futures - one with a clear sense of urgency to drive sustainability more and more into our business model.

We believe data holds the key for us to make informed decisions, which help us drive high-impact results. This prioritization helps us reduce timelines and allow us to increase energy and resource efficiency. We are therefore investing in exploring how to leverage data that help us redesign our operational models with the right prioritization.

World Courier: How has World Courier innovated and used data to lessen the environmental impact of drug supply chain logistics?

Paula Pulsoni: World Courier innovated a proprietary packaging solution called Cocoon, a reusable temperature-controlled container. More recently, World Courier’s team of analysts used an advanced network simulation to drive smart decision-making on how to allocate these shippers globally in the most efficient way. The aim of the exercise was to ensure Cocoons were available when and where they were needed, minimizing shippers’ reallocation transits with no payload.

The tool is not only progressively helping World Courier managers reduce the carbon footprint of their operations but also becoming instrumental in decision support delivering the real-time actionable data they need to make better business decisions faster.

Accurate real-time data can have a positive impact on virtually any operation associated with supply chain logistics. When it comes to our warehousing service line, World Courier recently optimized its facility capacity model to reclaim efficiencies from the existing facilities. Through advanced data analytics, operations are now able to predict occupancy more accurately in order to maximize capacity. This is coupled with innovation in storage solutions. All of these factors are helping the company manage warehouse operations more effectively and efficiently including extending the life span of our warehouses and reducing waste from clinical trials.

World Courier: In summary, what do you think is the key to more sustainable logistics operations?

Paula Pulsoni: Data for one, partnerships for sure. For any organization, the largest emissions come from the supply chain (scope 3), therefore, working in true partnership with clients and vendors is key to reducing our impact. It’s all about partnership and leveraging data across all levels in the supply chain to build more impactful initiatives; being truly united under this should be a common goal.

Equally important to me is the powerful impact on our workforce - how we partner internally as a community. With more than 42,000 employees worldwide I see tremendous potential to increase the sustainability of operations as we evolve, applying a sustainable mindset to our continuous improvement initiatives. 

We help make the world healthier by collaborating with our partners to create more sustainable and efficient operations across their supply chains. Learn more about our priorities and sustainable logistics solutions.

About The Authors

Paula Pulsoni
Vice President, Sales and Services
World Courier
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Giulia Ferrati
Director, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
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