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GSK and University of Nottingham’s Collaboration to Create Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Chemistry

The Centre of Excellence will serve as a global hub to catalyse new collaborations with other institutions and industry partners and will bring together leading UK academics, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers and GSK chemists, developing expertise in sustainable chemical synthesis.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of Nottingham formalised a collaboration to establish a new laboratory to accommodate the Centre of Excellence for sustainable chemistry and to construct an innovative carbon neutral sustainable chemistry laboratory. This agreement represents progress on GSK’s ‘green chemistry’ commitment first announced in 2010.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said:

“The carbon neutral laboratory will help affirm the UK as a global hub for the future of the life-sciences industry. Our vision is that the science researched within the laboratory will be as iconic as the building itself. This is an opportunity to invest further in science in the UK, re-think how we approach the drug discovery process and play a role in contributing to environmental stewardship.”

Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said:

“This development will be transformational in several dimensions: the built form will break new ground in sustainable construction; the Centre of Excellence will shape the future of drug discovery; and innovation in training and development will accelerate the translation of discovery to application. This is all tremendously exciting and will underpin a unique partnership between GSK and the University of Nottingham.”

Christopher Moody, Sir Jesse Boot Professor of Chemistry at University of Nottingham, said:

“The carbon neutral laboratory is an outstanding opportunity to put in place an innovative new research training framework and develop an ethos for sustainable synthesis that will be unique in the UK. We will investigate new methods to address problems in synthetic chemistry, whilst building a greater awareness of the environmental impact of choice of solvents, reagents and procedures.”

Carbon neutral by 2050

The announcement builds on GSK’s environmental strategy announced in 2011, with an objective that the company’s operations will become carbon neutral by 2050. Adopting sustainable chemistries from the start of the drug discovery process will help to reduce the impact of both the discovery and subsequent manufacturing of drugs on the environment, whilst optimising the use of increasingly scarce natural resources. GSK will also fund a research programme to gather information on aspects of the carbon neutral laboratory that could be transferred into the existing GSK estate to increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Key elements of GSK’s environment strategy include:

  • A commitment to a long-term goal for company operations and the value chain to be carbon neutral by 2050. This target means there will be no net greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal of products and the sourcing of raw materials.
  • Interim targets to reduce GSK’s overall carbon footprint by 10% by 2015 and 25% by 2020.
  • Target set to reduce GSK’s operational water consumption by 20% by 2015 and to reduce waste to landfill from operations by 25% by 2015 and to zero by 2020.
  • Delivering sustainable operations with financial benefits – the company estimates it can save £100m per annum by 2020 through reduced energy, materials and distribution costs.

Read here The Wall Street Journal’s report on the news.