The Environmental Impact of Disposable Technologies - Can disposables reduce your facility's environmental footprint? - BioPharm International


The Environmental Impact of Disposable Technologies
Can disposables reduce your facility's environmental footprint?

BioPharm International Supplements

It is instructive to see that by far the largest contributor to carbon footprint of all categories is workers driving to work. This is significant because disposables lower headcount and therefore reduce carbon footprint by reducing the number of workers driving to work. However, even in the case of the disposables facility, 80% of its carbon footprint is associated with driving to work. This suggests that if we are truly going to reduce the impact of these facilities, we must seek more energy-efficient transportation systems.

This study therefore demonstrates that the use of disposables in biomanufacturing at the 3 x 2,000 L scale actually reduces the impact on the environment when compared to stainless steel. Further developments from single-use suppliers, such as working with recyclable or separable materials and revising current packaging methods for single-use systems, will reduce further environmental impact of disposables.

It should be noted, however, that the overall environmental impact reduction when working with disposables may lessen at larger scale. For example, an evaluation of the usage of water for CIP and the influence of scale indicates that the savings rate is lower for a facility operating at larger scale.6

Lindsay Leveen is the product managment team lead for lytics at Genentech (South San Francisco, CA). He also writes a blog about the environmental impact of energy, at Andrew Sinclair is managing director of BioPharm Services Ltd., Chesham, UK, +44 1494 793243,
Miriam Monge is vice president of marketing and disposables implementation and Janice Lim is a bioprocess consultant, both at BioPharm Services UK, and Stacey Cox is a chemical engineer working in operational excellence at Genentech.


1. Sinclair A, Monge, M. Biomanufacturing for the 21st century–Designing a concept facility based on single-use systems. BioProcess Int. 2004;Oct:26–31.

2. Sinclair A., Monge, M. Concept facility based on single-use systems—Leading the way for biomanufacturing in the 21st century. BioProcess Int. 2005 Oct;2–6.

3. Disposables Subcommittee of the BPSA. Guide to disposal of single-use bioprocess systems. BioProcess Int. 2007 Nov.

4. Newman D. Environmental considerations for biomanufacturing processes. French industrie pharma. 2008 Feb/March.

5. Lim JAC, Sinclair, A. Process economy of disposable manufacturing—Process models to minimize upfront investment. Amer Pharm Rev. 2007 Sep/Oct.

6. Monge, M. Selection, Implementation and integration of disposables into facilities. SAFC European seminar: Modern challenges of cell culture and bioproduction. Basel, Switzerland. 2008 5 May.

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