Environmental Sustainability

The medicines we make require the use of valuable resources, including energy, water, and raw materials. We know that the way we operate our business today can have a long-lasting impact. Lilly takes a holistic approach to understanding and managing our environmental impacts across the product life cycle. To operate most sustainably, we are committed to conducting our business in an environmentally, socially, and financially responsible manner.

Our Vision

Healthy lives and a healthy environment. What we do today matters tomorrow. Lilly is committed to making medicines that help people live longer, healthier, more active lives. As part of that, we aspire to contribute to a healthy environment by thoughtfully incorporating environmental sustainability into our business.

Lilly takes a holistic approach to understanding and managing our environmental impacts across the product life cycle. This graphic outlines our approach and includes highlights in each area. Click on the stages to learn more.
hse management systems and standards
research and development

We consider environmental factors from the earliest stages of design and development — taking into account the materials and processes we use to make products as well as how we package those products to distribute to customers. Green chemistry is central to our design for environment approach. We seek improvements by reducing the amount of hazardous material used to make a product, increasing overall materials efficiency, evaluating chemical alternatives, and avoiding use of the riskiest substances. Our scientists also strive for more fundamental changes — ones that can result in order-of-magnitude improvements — by advancing the state of the art in chemistry, and developing and implementing new reactor technologies.

We also use science-based environmental risk assessments to evaluate the potential impact of our products in the environment, as well as an Environmental Development Review (EDR) process to evaluate potential environmental issues and opportunities during the scale-up of medicine production to manufacturing levels. The EDR process helps us identify and address potential impacts of manufacturing and waste treatment, suggest process improvements, and share learning as new medicines come through the pipeline and transition into manufacturing.


materials and natural resources

Lilly, customers, and governments worldwide are increasingly focused on the materials and chemicals used in products. We work to consume less materials, water, and other natural resources when possible, to reduce our overall environmental footprint. We comply with all relevant chemicals registration and materials management regulations

We produce some medicines that may be injected by patients using a syringe and needle or a pen-type injection device, and our environmental design and materials selection efforts extend to this area. Patient safety is our first priority, and to ensure the highest standards of quality and reliability, we currently use only virgin raw materials in the manufacturing of these devices. However, we are evaluating the use of renewable-based plastics that could, when suitable, eventually replace the petroleum-based plastics now in use, if demonstrated to have the same performance, safety, and reliability.



Measuring, reporting, and reducing Lilly’s environmental impacts from manufacturing are a key focus of the company’s sustainability program. This includes our most significant areas of environmental impact — energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and waste — as well as our progress in green procurement, other air emissions, biodiversity, and compliance. Our manufacturing HSE committee ensures compliance with all HSE regulations, policies, procedures, and standards, including thorough Environmental Capability Assessments, while ensuring that we are using the appropriate metrics and goals to assess performance and drive continuous improvement throughout the manufacturing organization.


* Per square foot of facilities space. See notes regarding environmental data and goals.

Sales and Marketing

Lilly’s global sales and marketing affiliates are committed to helping us achieve our environmental objectives. We continually work to improve the fuel efficiency of our sales force vehicles, to meet our goal to reduce overall fleet fuel use by 10 percent globally by 2013.

At Lilly sales and marketing offices around the world, we’ve also established projects to reduce energy use while increasing employee environmental awareness and action. For example, our sales office in Surrey, England, has reduced energy consumption by 25 percent since 2007 by using more energy-efficient data center cooling, installing timed lighting controls, and implementing meters to measure and display electricity efficiency around the campus.


product transport and packaging

Pharmaceutical packaging is highly regulated and must fulfill many functions, including protecting product integrity during transit and storage, providing information, resisting counterfeiting, and protecting the contents from tampering or access by children. Packaging is also a source of cost and waste. To address this, Lilly operations around the world have developed innovative packaging approaches that contribute to the bottom line while improving our environmental performance.

Lilly’s packaging guidelines — which cover areas such as reducing materials use, using materials with reduced environmental impact including recycled content, and designing packaging to enhance recyclability — provide a common basis for incorporating sustainability considerations into packaging decision making.

During 2011, we implemented several packaging-process improvements at our Giessen site in Germany for the launch of one of our products. These improvements reduced the reject rate, decreasing waste by nearly four metric tons per year and saving an estimated $1.5 million annually.

We track the greenhouse gas emissions of our product transportation and distribution vendors, and are committed to working with them to reduce those impacts.


product use

Lilly is committed to understanding the potential effects of pharmaceutical products in the environment as well as in humans, and we support using science-based evaluations to assess and minimize the environmental risks of our pharmaceutical products. Through collaborations with industry partners, academic researchers, and regulatory agencies, we continually work to further understand and proactively address any potential impacts from the production, distribution, use, and disposal of our products.

Our scientists have published articles and presented on these topics, and have participated in discussions about the safety of pharmaceutical residues in water at scientific meetings held by the U.S. National Academies National Research Council, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and European governmental sponsors.


product end-of-life

Medicines are intended to be used in their entirety by patients. As a result, typical models of take-back, reuse, and recycling in other sectors, designed to capture value from products after use, do not apply to the pharmaceutical industry. We are working with customers and partners to better understand and ensure an effective approach to product end-of-life issues. In cases where patients do not finish their medication, reuse or recycling is not a safe option due to the nature of our products. Therefore, we support nationally sanctioned disposal guidelines for patients' unused medicines. In the United States, we promote efforts to educate the public about proper drug-disposal methods for unused medicines. For example, both Lilly and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade association sponsor the SMARxT DISPOSAL program.


Scope of Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) Data on This Site

  • Data in this section cover Lilly’s global operations, including wholly-owned subsidiaries, unless stated otherwise.
  • Data may be revised compared to prior reports due to changes in calculation methodology and other factors.
  • Following World Resources Institute guidance, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions (except Scope 3), and water-use data are reported on an adjusted basis accounting for mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, as appropriate, to ensure comparability, unless stated otherwise.
  • Years are calendar years, unless stated otherwise.
  • Bureau Veritas provided independent, third-party verification of greenhouse gas emissions data for Scopes 1, 2, and 3. In addition, Bureau Veritas verified the percentage decrease from both the baseline year (2007) and from 2011 compared to 2012 for the following metrics: energy intensity, waste to landfill, and water intake.

Awards and Recognition

  • Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) disclosure score of 86, performance band B (2013)
  • Newsweek Green Rankings, listed as the 77th greenest U.S. company (2012)
  • Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Donor of the Year (2010)
  • Indiana Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, Land Use category winner (2010
  • Chemical Industry Awards, EDF Energy Low Carbon Award, UK, short-listed (2011)
  • SustainIndy Finalist (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, Gold and Silver Medal award winner for nonhazardous waste reduction and recycling (2011)
  • Carbon Trust – recognition of carbon management programs for United Kingdom operations (2013)


This section covers the broad range of our environmental activities, from our approach and management systems to our product stewardship activities that address environmental issues across the value chain, to performance data and examples illustrating progress in our operations.