“Climate change” is a term we hear on almost a daily basis. The visible impacts of climate change such as historic forest fires, warming temperatures, rising tides, and changing weather patterns are seen almost daily in the news. Many companies, including a large number retailers across the U.S., have developed plans and have committed to reduce and/or offset their carbon emissions. However, retail pharmacy’s participation in such programs has been absent or limited. Before I share my thoughts on how our profession (community pharmacy) can participate in your company’s sustainability efforts, and how MarkeTouch can assist you in making meaningful strides to going “green”, let me share a few interesting statistics:
93% of paper comes from trees1
45% of all printed paper is thrown away1
Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 33% of municipal waste1
It takes an average of 5 liters of water to produce one piece of paper1
One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people2
In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles2
On average, a single, typical, community pharmacy generates over 700,000 printed pages of patient education annually
700,000 printed pages consumes over 80 trees
Add to that, the 75 printer toner cartridges used each year printing those 700K pages
According to the International Pharmaceutical Federation, pharmacists are responsible for minimizing the effect their practice has on the environment through changes in “prescribing, dispensing, pharmaceutical care and disposal of unused medicines, as well as waste discharge into the environment.”3
Now the big questions. How can the pharmacy reduce its carbon footprint? How can pharmacies actively participate in the sustainability efforts of our communities and the companies that we work for? Can it be done without impacting patient privacy? Can you enhance the customer experience and patient care and reduce your consumption of paper?
The simple answer is, yes. Have you considered “going digital” with your printed patient medication information such as: Medication Guides, Vaccine Information Sheets, Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies documentation, and Patient Information Sheets? The International Pharmacy Federation provides further guidance that “reduction in the use of paper can be achieved by diminishing the amount of photocopying and printing of electronic documents, and using only electronic documents whenever possible.”
In support of these initiatives, MarkeTouch has developed a patent-pending service4 for the automated electronic distribution of government required or manufacturer provided medication information commonly distributed via paper. By implementing paperless delivery of these important documents, pharmacies can save time, money, and (most importantly) trees. If you would like to reduce the carbon footprint of your pharmacy, see how many trees you can save, and to learn more about MarkeTouch’s Digital Medication Guide service, please email or give me a call.