Every year we use large amounts of energy to manufacture medicines, and the expectation is that production will continue to increase, hence so will our energy consumption. Reducing energy consumption and ensuring that we transition to renewable energy are top priorities. 

As part of our environmental strategy, Circular for Zero, we have set the target, that all offices and laboratories will source renewable power by 2030.

Energy consumption for production increased by 5% compared to 2020, primarily due to a new production facility and a general increase in produced volumes.

Energy consumption in office buildings and laboratories increased by 12% as facilities were utilised more throughout the year compared to 2020.

Energy-saving projects implemented in 2021 within production sites resulted in annual savings of 67,000 GJ.

In 2021, 100% of power sourced for production sites was from renewable energy.

Every year we use billions of litres of water. All our production sites are certified according to ISO14001. This means we are committed to continuous improvements, which also includes optimising water use. Each production facility has the opportunity to submit water innovation projects for approval, leading to an overall decrease in water use. It is our goal to achieve ‘no waste of water’ by optimising production, using existing production capacity better and by reusing water whenever possible.

We continuously monitor and report on water use at all production sites globally. Water is included as one of the three prioritised areas in our environmental strategy, Circular for Zero, with a focus on reducing water use and reusing water whenever possible at our production sites.

Annual water targets for relevant business units are in place to increase water use efficiency and the reuse of water. We acknowledge that water use should ideally decrease, but increased water use is a natural consequence of increased production to meet market demands for our products. We strive to decrease our water use relative to production output. 

For information about our position on water, click here.

In 2021, production sites consumed 3,488,000 cubic metres of water, an increase of 4% compared with 2020 due to a new production facility and a general increase in produced volumes.

Production sites in Brazil, China, Iran and Algeria, are located in areas subject to water stress or high seasonal variations. They consume 10% of the total water for global production. Overall, water consumption at these facilities decreased by 10% compared to 2020 due to significant water-savings projects implemented despite increased production.

We aim to have zero environmental impact across our value chain. This work is organised across the company and in our environmental management system.

Our Executive Management is responsible for the overall environmental policy and for setting strategic direction for environmental areas. Our Corporate Environmental Strategy team is responsible for the environmental policy and strategy. In addition, there is a dedicated department, NN Environment, which is responsible for the environmental management system and ensuring environmental compliance in Novo Nordisk.

All our production facilities are certified according to ISO 14001, environmental management. The ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management system ensures continuous improvements through a systematic approach. The production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) in Kalundborg, Denmark, is also certified according to ISO 50001, energy management.

We have on-site Environmental coordinators at all production facilities. The coordinators monitor environmental progress and environmental compliance at our sites worldwide.

For information about our Circular for Zero strategy, click here.

For information about our environmental policy, click here.

In 2021, there were 12 breaches, a decrease from 15 breaches in 2020. The breaches were mainly related to wastewater and process waste, and all had a limited impact on the environment. All breaches were reported to the authorities.

As a global company, we must think beyond our own operations when considering our environmental impact. Today, our supply chain accounts for the vast majority of our total CO2 emissions. For us to achieve our ultimate goal of becoming a fully circular company, we have to also look carefully at the companies we work with. With more than 60,000 suppliers in our value chain, engaging with them all to progress towards net-zero emissions is a major undertaking.

We have also set a target to have zero CO2 emissions from operations and transportation by 2030 including all of scope 1 and scope 2 as well as emissions from scope 3 (distribution and business flights).

Novo Nordisk has long-term targets of zero CO2 emissions from operations and transportation by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045.

For more information about our position on climate, click here.

Novo Nordisk has long-term targets of zero CO2 emissions from operations and transportation by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045.

In 2021, CO2 emissions from operations and transportation increased by 2% to 174,000 tonnes CO2. The increase was primarily due to a rise in emissions from product distribution.

CO2 emissions from production increased by 5% due to the addition of a new production facility and general increase in production volumes. 

CO2 emissions from global offices and laboratories have remained consistent with 2020. As part of the Circular for Zero strategy, all offices and laboratories will source renewable power by 2030.

In 2021, CO2 emissions from product distribution increased by 16%. The increase in emissions from product distribution is primarily caused by increased use of air freight instead of sea and road freight. CO2 reductions of 4,000 tonnes were incurred from green fuel agreements with selected transportation service providers.

CO2 emissions from business flights decreased by 47%, due to impacts from COVID-19. CO2 emissions from company cars increased by 2 %, due to increased usage of cars throughout the year compared to 2020.

In 2021, Scope 1 emissions accounted for 77,000 tons CO2, Scope 2 emissions accounted for 16,000 tons CO2 and Scope 3 emissions from product distribution and business flights accounted for 81,000 tons CO2.

We distribute hundreds of millions of vials and injection pens to people who need them – and the need for our life-saving treatments is growing. Our products are made of high-quality materials, but after use, most of them end up in landfill.

We are re-designing both our existing and future products to reduce our waste. From the raw materials that go into them to the way they are put together, we are working to solve the end-of-life challenge of devices so materials can be recovered and recycled into new products.

For people living with diabetes, their insulin pen is an essential daily companion. But even if an insulin pen consists of around 77% plastic, it cannot be thrown into the plastic recycling bin along with empty juice bottles and recyclable food packaging. Current guidance varies from country to country, but often used insulin pens end up in general household waste.

We are working to ensure existing and new products are fit for circularity and have developed a circular design guideline within R&D to reduce the environmental footprint of our devices. As part of our environmental strategy, Circular for Zero strategy, we are seeking to address the end-of-life challenges associated with many of our medical devices. In 2020, we initiated a pilot take-back scheme for medical devices in Denmark with positive feedback from patients and partners. We furthermore achieved a good return rate with a monthly average of 20% for 2021. In 2021, we scaled the pilot take-back scheme to the UK and Brazil based on the positive results in Denmark. Through recycling our production waste, we have been able to successfully recycle insulin pens, providing materials for the manufacture of lamps and office furniture. We are pursuing greater re-use and recycling of our devices and aspire to achieve this in coming years.

In 2021, waste from production sites increased by 28% due to increased production. 96% of the total waste was either recycled, used for biogas production or incinerated at plants where energy is used for heat and power production.

The amount of waste recycled increased by 30% from 116,000 to 151,000 tonnes primarily driven by the production in Kalundborg, Denmark.

The amount of waste sent for energy recovery increased by 47% from 15,000 to 22,000 tonnes, primarily due to increased production volumes and challenges in ethanol regeneration. Less than 1% of total waste was sent to landfill.

In 2021, as in 2020, 14% of the waste was categorised as hazardous waste.