Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

What is the issue?

As a health care company Lilly is committed to the present and future well-being of people and the environment in which we live. For Lilly’s position on Pharmaceuticals in the Environment, click here.


Lilly supports educating patients and caregivers on how to properly dispose of unused medicines. Every patient and caregiver has a role in being responsible when it comes to disposing of unused medicines. For Lilly’s position on the Disposal of Unused Medicines in the United States, click here.

What is Lilly doing to address the issue?

Click on one of the Case Studies below to learn more about some of the specific process that Lilly has in place to minimize impact to the environment.

At the Process Collection of Cleaning Residues

We operate “first rinse” installation systems at several sites that make potent finished products like Evista.  These systems store and concentrate the first rinse wastewater from processes.  Wastewater can be processed at rates of 300 Liter per hour.  These systems can achieve a concentration ratio up to 1:150.  Concentrated wastewaters from these systems are loaded into trucks for final disposal by incineration.  In some situations, these installations can also be used to store product in the unlikely case of a spillage from a process.

State-of-the-Art Thermal Oxidation

One of our sites that manufactures the active ingredients for Cymbalta and Zyprexa utilizes an extremely aggressive treatment technology known as “thermal oxidation” to treat wastewater. Liquid thermal oxidisers are operated at extremely high temperatures (up to 1150°C) to ensure the safe destruction of the wastes arising from the manufacture of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients. 


For more information, see our latest corporate responsibility reports and updates.

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