Air Emissions

We are committed to controlling air emissions from our facilities to reduce local, regional and global environmental impacts.

Air emissions are generated by our manufacturing and research operations, as well as by burning fuel in on-site equipment and fleet vehicles. Our Air Management Standard requires our facilities to quantify and control air emissions to comply with applicable regulations and emission standards.

Our approach

Any increase in production can negatively impact our emissions trends. Though there are efforts to minimize solvent use in production, solvents are needed for cleaning and disinfecting purposes. As the company transforms from manufacturing of pharmaceuticals to biopharmaceuticals, mandatory cleaning and disinfection protocols associated with biologics and vaccines are increasing solvent based emissions.

The Montreal Protocol mandates phase-out of refrigerants that are ozone depleting substances (ODS) per schedules approved for individual countries. Our facilities ensure compliance with applicable regulatory requirements that have been established in accordance with each country’s commitments.

Our company’s Air Center of Excellence (CoE) provides assistance as needed to our facilities to obtain appropriate environmental permits, and to quantify and control air emissions to comply with applicable regulations and emission standards.

Production and research emissions

Many of our pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, cleaning/disinfection operations and research laboratories require the use of solvents. Evaporation of solvents into the air is the primary source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. In an effort to reduce VOC emissions, reduction in solvent usage has been incorporated as an element of our Green & Sustainable Science program.

Key elements of the program include designing efficient processes that use fewer and less-hazardous organic solvents and using water-based methods for cleaning our process equipment where they are as effective as solvent-based methods. To reduce emissions from processes where organic solvents are used, we use pollution-control technologies such as conservation vents, carbon filters, thermal oxidizers, condensers and scrubbers.

Fossil fuel combustion emissions

Air emissions are also generated by burning fuel in our boilers and power-generation turbines (for heat and energy), and by other combustion processes, such as thermal oxidizers (for treating air emissions) and incinerators (for destroying waste). Our fleet vehicles and aircraft also burn fuel and generate air emissions. These combustion processes result in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We strive to make our facilities more energy-efficient through our energy-management programs and to improve the fuel efficiency of our fleet vehicles. By making these improvements, we also reduce emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx and VOCs from our operations.

Performance data

Air pollutant emissions by type (MT)120152016201720182019
Nitrogen oxides (NOx)494455481495384
Sulfur oxides (SOx)4837373027
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)455440380405418
Ozone-depleting substances (ODS)
Note: Previously reported data have been restated per our methodology, which includes adding facilities that have been acquired and removing facilities that have been sold as operating sites.
1Data are estimated using conservative assumptions and factors, not measured or weighed.

Our NOx emissions significantly decreased from 2018 to 2019 due to the discontinuation of the use of emergency generators at our Puerto Rico facility that were required during an extended power outage caused by Hurricane Maria. Energy-conservation programs also helped reduce emissions.

VOC emissions increased from 2018 to 2019 due to increases in production and because of continuous data collection improvements with the adoption of more accurate emission-tracking methods.

The decrease in SOx emissions from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to the use of fuel with a lower sulfur content and our energy-conservation programs.

Emissions of ODS are the result of non-routine releases from temperature-control and fire-suppression systems and can vary from year to year.

For information regarding our environmental management and governance, please see our EHS Management & Compliance page.