Carbon Footprint Assessment of Orion’s Dry Powder Inhalers

Orion conducted a carbon footprint assessment for their entire range of dry powder inhalers (DPIs) in 2021.1 In 2019, Orion conducted its first LCA on its range of dry powder inhalers2, for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since the 1980s, Orion has focused their efforts on creating a propellant-free inhaler for environmental reasons.

 

Carbon Footprint Assessment of Orion’s Dry Powder Inhalers

Across Europe, 30 million people with asthma need to use different medications to treat their asthma symptoms such as a regular cough and shortness of breath. The majority of these medications are taken using inhalers, which are devices which deliver either powder or aerosol formulations of drugs into the lungs. The development and manufacturing process of these inhalers has an impact on the environment.

The Montreal protocol in 1987 prohibited the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants for inhaled
products as used in metered dose inhalers (MDIs). Since the Montreal Protocol came into force, the use of most
ozone-depleting substances has either ceased or at least declined. CFCs were replaced by hydrofluoroalkane (HFA/HFC)
propellants, and their use is still permitted in MDI medications. In MDIs, propellants are discharged during use and
released after product disposal. These propellants, HFCs, are potent greenhouse gases with around 1,300 times more
global warming potential than carbon dioxide. The carbon footprint of single MDI products is still 10-37 times higher than dry powder inhalers (DPIs). Based on earlier assessments, DPIs have been reported to have a carbon footprint between 1.5 and 6 kg CO2e for 200-doses inhaler.3

Orion conducted a carbon footprint assessment for their entire range of DPIs in 2021.1 This is a continuum of the initial life cycle assessment (LCA) of Orion’s dry powder inhaler range which was conducted in 2019.2 According to the latest assessment, the average carbon footprint of one Orion dry powder inhaler is 0.580 kg CO2e. When considering the climate impact of inhalation therapy, dry powder inhalers (DPIs) have a minimal carbon footprint when compared to pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs).

Orion wanted a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impacts of their range of dry powder inhalers. The life cycle assessment (LCA) is a robust tool which measures the environmental impact of a product over its whole life cycle. This is broken into different stages which include: extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, product usage and disposal. Conducting an LCA on a product identifies areas where reduction efforts should be focused.

The cradle-to-grave LCA was conducted across the full range of Orion’s inhalers, which includes six products available for the treatment of asthma and COPD (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate, salmeterol xinafoate/fluticasone propionate, salbutamol sulfate, formoterol fumarate dihydrate, budesonide and beclometasone dipropionate). For each, the most used strength, and the number of doses per device were used for the assessment. The analysis covered raw material extraction, upstream materials preparation, transportation, manufacture, processing and assembly, distribution, and disposal. The life cycle inventory data is based on Orion’s own measurements and data, collected from suppliers, and international life cycle inventory databases. Analysis was performed according to ISO 14040 LCA standard series by a certified independent third party, Carbon Footprint Ltd.

The results represent the estimated environmental impact of creating, using, and disposing of the inhaler device. Several environmental indicators, such as climate change, toxicity and water depletion were assessed to ensure a holistic understanding of the environmental impact. The most important source of impact for most of the indicators was from manufacture, which accounted for approx. 63% (range 55-67%) for carbon footprint. In comparison, emissions from distribution accounted for less than 2%, indicating that most potential for improvement lies in manufacturing processes. It is also noted that the results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) always depend on the calculation method, scoping and assumptions used and they reflect our understanding at the time when published.

 

Average carbon footprint for one Orion dry powder inhaler (DPI) 0.580 kg CO2e

 

Average of the six Orion dry powder inhaler products, range 0.484-0.650 kg. For each, the most commonly used strength and number of doses per device across all European countries were used for this analysis.

API: Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient


The safety and efficacy of treatment options for patients’ diseases are of the utmost importance. The environmental aspect is something which Orion is increasingly striving to take into consideration, by focussing on the entire product life cycle to reduce environmental impact. For example: by driving energy savings, switching to entirely green electricity at factories and improving wastewater management. Orion focuses their efforts to ensure a responsible supply chain. Patients with asthma or COPD and treating physicians alike are increasingly aware of climate change and how this impacts their treatment choices. When considering the climate impact of inhalation therapy, DPIs have a minimal carbon footprint compared with MDIs.

This LCA was used as a basis for offsetting the emissions of Orion’s dry powder inhaler product range by supporting programs that remove the same amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere over the product life cycle. Healthcare professionals may register and explore more about the carbon neutrality of Orion’s range of dry powder inhalers at wehale.life.


References:

  1. Product Carbon Footprint: Life Cycle Assessment Report for Orion Corporation, Orion Pharma. Carbon Footprint Ltd. 2021.
  2. Product Carbon Footprint: Life Cycle Assessment Report for Orion Corporation, Orion Pharma. Carbon Footprint Ltd. 2020.
  3. Wilkinson AJK et al. Costs of switching to low global warming potential inhalers. An economic and carbon footprint analysis of NHS prescription data in England. BMJ Open 2019. Accessed on 3rd May 2022 from: https://bmjop en.bmj.com/content/9/10/e028763

 

JUNE 2022 / CORP-208l(1)e