We are working to make our healthcare products available to an increasing number of people around the world while at the same time protecting the resources we need for the future and safeguarding the environment.

As debate rages over the Paris climate agreement and US based companies restate their commitment to renewable energy and the reduction of CO2 outputs (despite their country’s administrative position), it is worth looking at how GSK Ireland is doing on the sustainability and environmental front.

GSK worldwide has the stated ambition of having a carbon neutral value chain by 2050 and will achieve this through minimising its carbon footprint, reducing local water impacts and cutting operational waste.

GSK Ireland has three facilities in its value chain; Cork, Dungarvan and Sligo. Each site is taking proactive steps to contribute to GSK targets through renewable energy infrastructure investment and resource management.

Energy & CO2

The replacement of oil power with renewable energy is a prime driver of the reduction of GSK’s CO2 footprint in Ireland. A wind turbine installed in GSK Cork in 2014 produces 30% of the site’s electricity resulting in a reduction of 4,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions – a 57% drop year on year! 

In Dungarvan a €7m Biomass Woodchip Boiler, opened in 2016, generates €700k in energy cost savings and has removed the need for oil-fired boilers on the site. This has resulted in a 33% fall in the site’s CO2 output. Furthermore, the woodchip fuel is produced from waste wood and its ash is used to produce fertiliser, which grows more trees – a virtuous energy cycle.

GSK Sligo has delivered a CO2 reduction of 40% since its baseline year 2008. Since then sustainability has received a lot of focus in Sligo. Many energy reduction projects were established with ongoing continuous improvement metrics to achieve the site’s long term sustainability program.

All GSK value chain sites operate under energy efficiency management systems that in themselves are generating substantial reductions in energy usage. Energy efficient lighting triggered by presence sensors, variable speed drives on plant motors (stop-start technology), heat cycle efficient air conditioning systems are all contributing to highly efficient power usage profiles for GSK’s production facilities in Ireland. This approach to manufacturing power consumption allows for efficiency optimisation in drawing power from the national grid – which contributes to less demand for electrical power generation nationally.


In Ireland, water is an abundant resource but that doesn’t mean that GSK is profligate in its use. Many of GSK’s production processes have low water use profiles yet every effort is made to reduce water usage and water contamination across the value chain here. GSK Cork’s water management programmes have reduced water usage by 58% since 2008.

In Dungarvan, where little water is used in the production process, the focus is on minimising pollution as well as water use. Its onsite waste water treatment facilities have been enhanced with the installation of a grease and oil trap to ensure that any water outages from the site are filtered to remove contaminant that might otherwise pollute nearby Dungarvan Bay.

GSK Sligo are part of a Large Water Users Community of Practice which has kick-started a water stewardship programme on the site to identify water reduction programmes. A new onsite waste water treatment plant is currently being designed.

Investment in water management technology such as steam traps and hyper efficient condensers managed by sophisticated heat-cool cycle systems ensure that water and power use are optimised for efficiency. Leak detection, thermo-graphic surveys and water usage mapping are also deployed at all sites to ensure as much as possible that not-a-drop of water is wasted in our closed systems.

The generation of waste is an unavoidable by-product of any production process however it can be managed. At GSK, core operational objectives are to achieve and maintain the absolute minimal waste from production outputs possible.  Every kilo of waste product saved means less energy consumption, less raw material transportation, less man hours and increased logistical efficiency.

GSK Dungarvan is on-track to deliver £1.6m in waste savings in 2017 – a 38% reduction on 2016 levels.

In relation to environmental impacts from waste, GSK’s sites operate on a Zero to landfill policy. Any waste generated is sent for incineration where energy is also recovered as part of the process. GSK’s sites are also highly maintained to minimise local environmental impact. Dungarvan for example, GSK Ireland’s largest production facility, tracks its environmental impact through longitudinal studies and has zero impact on bio-diversity – pretty important in a manufacturing site in a rural location.

Looking to the Future

So how can we do better and what do our future sustainability initiatives look like? Well GSK will continue to reduce its energy, water and CO2 outputs with world class management systems, capital investment in new infrastructure and a continuous cycle of improvement in our plant mechanical systems to help us achieve our carbon neutral goals. Investment in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar energy will ensure that GSK’s value chain continues to be founded on every more sustainable foundations – good for us and good for the planet.