Webpackaging logo

Smaller carbon footprint from plastic pharma containers

Health, Pharmaceuticals, Active, Smart Packaging, Sustainable Packaging, Eco-Sensitive Packaging, Eco Sensitive, Eco Plastic, Plastic - PCR

Carbon Footprints

In the public debate about how to reduce the carbon footprint of packaging, it’s often said that glass would be a significantly more eco-friendly material than plastic in pharma packaging, for example. However, a comparative life cycle analysis of containers made from glass, aluminum and plastic gives a different result.

How does a plastic pharmaceutical container fare in comparison with an equivalent container made from glass or aluminum in terms of its carbon footprint? To get some clarity on this issue, Nolato Cerbo in Trollhättan commissioned an independent party to conduct a comparative life cycle analysis.

A cradle-to-grave analysis


The cradle-to-grave analysis examined a 200 ml container with an annual production of 5 million in glass, aluminum and three different types of plastic, also factoring in the environmental impact of a 800 km journey from Nolato’s plant to the customer.

The analysis found that the glass containers contributed 930 tons of CO2 per year, aluminum containers 575 tons of CO2, plastic containers made from fossil raw materials 447 tons of CO2, the plastic containers made from bio-based raw materials 337 tons CO2 and the plastic containers made from recycled plastic 300 tons of CO2.

So a plastic container made from recycled plastic had a carbon footprint that was just 30% of that of the glass container.

Halving the carbon footprint

The results of the analysis were then used to simulate the environmental impact of replacing the annual production of 40 million units of a 30 ml glass container with an equivalent plastic container. The simulation showed that changing from a glass container to a plastic one made from fossil raw materials would halve the carbon footprint. If the container were instead made of bio-based material, such as plastic made from sugarcane residue, the carbon footprint would shrink by an additional one-third of that of the glass container.

By using green electricity, which Nolato does wherever possible, including in Sweden, it would avoid an additional 180 tons of carbon dioxide. So all in all, there’s the potential to cut the carbon footprint by over 1,600 tons of CO2 a year!

“This is really interesting,” says Glenn Svedberg, Managing Director of Nolato Cerbo. “These analyses show that we already have the opportunity to opt for environmentally sustainable alternatives that would significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”

See also

Nolato and Sustainable Development - 2023 Sustainability Report

Nolato has a long tradition of responsible business conduct. The shared values of being Professional, Well Organized and Responsible are reflected throughout our business and are central to our sustainable development strategy. Nolato's sustainable development strategy is a vital part of its overall strategy for profitable growth. It is based on the Global Compact and the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is focused on addressing current challenges while preparing for future expectations and requirements.

Nolato Sustainable Procurement Initiative

Together with suppliers, Nolato can significantly reduce its carbon footprint and enhance sustainability performance. Nolato is steadfast in its commitment to sustainability and fully aware of its critical importance for a healthier planet and society. Under the guidance of our CEO, Christer Wahlquist, the company is taking decisive steps towards the goal of net-zero emissions. This journey is grounded in the principles of the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), ensuring efforts are both scientifically substantiated and impactful.

Cerbo Classic Mass Balance: Design for Environment

Early involvement in the design process allows for sustainability ideas to be evaluated. One of the cornerstones of a circular economy is designing with the ability to recycle a product and optimize the circulation of material for reuse. Today it is also possible to reduce the CO2 emission on existing product ranges, for instance, with the use of BIO-material or mass-balanced solutions. By using the mass balance model, the same quality standards are met, and it contributes to the environment.

Explore Nolato's Unrivaled Pharma Packaging Guide

Packaging designed to meet the requirements of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines, Noloto packaging protects vital pharmaceuticals and life-enhancing drugs in forms such as solids, ophthalmic, and creams in a safe but user-friendly manner. Look inside our high-quality pharmaceutical primary plastic packaging catalog with 3D configurators for select ranges. Nolato Packaging manufactures reliable child resistance (CRC) and tamper-evident (TE) closure technologies.

  • Company News
  • English
  • Modified 31 May 2021
  • Hits 1741