Environment and Sustainability

We’re supporting our members to implement more sustainable processes, systems and materials to limit the impact of the consumer healthcare industry on the environment. On this page, you’ll find more information about our work on some of the key environmental and sustainability issues impacting the OTC sector, and our latest resources for members.

Sustainability in the consumer healthcare industry 


Our health, our healthcare and our environment are inextricably linked. The consumer healthcare industry recognises that we all have a responsibility to act now to limit the impact of climate change on the environment. 

Our industry, like many, is tied to processes, systems and materials that impact the environment. We are fully committed to supporting our members to implement more sustainable alternatives wherever possible, whilst ensuring that over-the-counter medicines remain accessible for all those who need them to self-care. 

Our overall objective is to support the UK consumer healthcare industry to deliver environmentally sustainable self-care in line with the Global Self Care Federation Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care and UK Government’s net zero by 2050 commitment, which includes NHS Net Zero targets. 


Working together for change

We are working with a variety of stakeholders at both the UK, EU and International level. 

In the UK we are collaborating with other trade associations, government bodies and local partners to ensure that the OTC industry is represented in discussions and helping to find solutions where needed.  We are ensuring that our members are aware of local initiatives and requirements relating to the environment such as: 

  • Extended Producer Responsibility on packaging, including roll out of recycling symbols on packaging (via Defra) 
  • Plastic Packaging Tax 
  • Pharmaceuticals in the Environment 
  • NHS net zero 
  • Relevant government consultations pertaining to consumer healthcare products 
  • Meetings with the Environment Agency and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) 
  • Cross trade association electronic Patient Information Leaflet (ePIL) work  

PAGB is a member of AESGP, the association representing the self-care industry across Europe, which has brought its members together to address environmental issues for consumer healthcare, including microplastics and medicine disposal. We are closely involved in the ongoing work that they undertake and feed into the policy via the board and respective working groups at the EU level. 

We also sit on the board of the Global Self Care Federation (GSCF), which is driving the issue at a global level via the Charter for Environmentally Sustainable Self-Care, which was developed together with industry associations and manufacturers in the consumer healthcare industry. Our shared goal is to minimise the impact of medicines on the environment while safeguarding access to effective treatments for consumers. Our team has fed into the global regulatory working groups involved in this work.

In line with the GSCF charter, we have made a series of commitments across the charter’s three priority areas. These include commitments to support our members with the implementation of the UK Plastic Packaging Tax, working to promote the importance of the pharmacy take-back scheme as the correct way to dispose of out-of-date or unused medicines in the UK, and working to reduce our own CO2 footprint. You can download our pledge here and read more about our 2023 update on our commitments below.

Our 2023 update on our commitments

Plastics and Packaging

Plastics and Packaging

We have focused on:

• Providing reminders, updates, and links to PAGB members.

• PAGB Environmental Working Group established.

• Inputting into cross industry plastic / recycling initiatives including GSCF work on plastics.

• Working with key stakeholders such as DHSC and MHRA to support members with the introduction of new labelling requirements for recycling information.

• Inputting into relevant consultations, working with other Trade Associations where relevant.

• Participating in the cross-industry UK ePI Task Force which is working to secure the transition from printed PILs to electronic alternatives with the potential benefits that brings to the environment

Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

We have been working on:

• Influencing policy development in the UK and the EU via our expert consultant.

• Providing members with updates on policy developments in EU and UK.

• Attended cross-industry meeting with Defra and UK Environment Agency.

• Working with Baroness Bennett on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment involving a private members’ bill in the House of Lords.

CO2 Footprint

CO2 Footprint

We are continually striving to reduce our office CO2 Footprint including:

• Using less plastic.

• Reduce, reuse and recycle.

• Using renewable energy.

• Reviewing our banking and pension plans to ensure they promote sustainability.


Working with our members

We continue to provide our members with up to date environment and sustainability information via a number of different means. These include: 

  • A feed on the latest activity and resources, shared at the bottom of this page for members, to highlight key updates and information on environment and sustainability both at a UK and EU level. 
  • A monthly newsletter that members can sign up for.
  • Initiating an new PAGB Environmental working group, which first met in March 2023. Working group members can access meeting resources here.

We plan to have our next meeting of the working group by end of March 2024, where members will be able to hear further updates on the work PAGB is undertaking. 

Want to keep up to date on the latest industry news relating to environment and sustainability?

PAGB members can sign up for regular updates on environment and sustainability news, issues and policies.

This content is exclusively for PAGB members.

Please login to your PAGB website account to access this content. Or visit our membership pages to find out more about PAGB membership and how you could benefit from our collective and expert voice representing and promoting the sector’s interests.

Latest activity and resources