Waste management

Around the world, waste generation rates are rising, posing a significant challenge to people and the environment. Businesses can play their part through a more effective and efficient use of materials which results in lower costs and less waste. 


Our approach: reducing, reusing and recycling

Our waste generation primarily comes from our production sites. Our largest production site is located in Denmark, where the largest amount of waste is generated. The environmental impact of waste depends on the way it is disposed, and can include CO2 emissions related to incineration or effects on local ecosystems from landfilling. 

We strive to reduce waste generation and continuously increase the amount of waste reused and recycled.


How we take action

Our waste and packaging footprint 

We closely monitor waste from production. We use an internal reporting system to understand what type of waste is being produced.

As part of our Environmental Management system, waste projects are conducted at production sites. We have implemented innovative solutions to waste issues, such as recycling ethanol and creating biogas from organic residues. 

Reducing waste from production

In collaboration with partners, we are establishing a biogas plant near our insulin plant in Kalundborg, Denmark. This biogas plant will use the fermentation slurry from our Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) production to generate biogas, which will replace natural gas for our production at other locations. The plant will start production in 2018. This is one of many initiatives in the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis where the residual product of one enterprise is used as a resource by another enterprise. 

We are also recycling waste from our pen production. The majority of waste from pen production is recycled and we are working to find solutions for the remaining part.


Reducing waste from offices

In Denmark, energy from food waste is recovered in biogas plants. The biogas is used as green fuel for homes and industries. At our global headquarters, waste is separated into paper, cardboard and electronic waste, and recycled. In our affiliates, we also do this to the extent possible considering the local waste sorting options.


Circular economy

To reduce our environmental impact, we work with the principles of circular economy. We consider resource efficiency and ultimately zero waste as a way to promote innovation, reduce costs and minimise environmental impacts across our value chain. This is in line with our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 12 to ensure responsible consumption and production patterns. 

The principles of circular economy help us adopt a life cycle approach in decision making, e.g. when developing new products. 

See our position on circular economy


Engaging with our stakeholders 

We engage with stakeholders for example via the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis, where by-products and resources (energy, water and material streams) are exchanged between other companies in the region. More information about the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis can be found here.


We continue to monitor and report on the amount, types and disposal methods for waste from our production. 

The amount of waste has increased slightly from 2016 to 2017 due to increasing production. 96% of the total waste is recycled, used for biogas production or incinerated at plants where the energy is used for heat and power production, less than 1% ends up in landfill.


Waste disposal

Waste disposal graph

Source: Novo Nordisk Annual Report 2017

How we report

More details about waste types and amounts can be found in the Novo Nordisk Annual Report 2017.