Cytiva’s vision of a sustainable future

Cytiva offer solutions to support work from biological research to clinical therapy, including tools for research, drug discovery, diagnostics and bioprocessing. Ryan Walker, the Sustainability Program Leader at Cytiva, discussed with DDW’s Megan Thomas the steps Cytiva is making to make their vision of a more sustainable future a reality. 

When asked how easy it is for Cytiva to implement green policies and what the main challenges that they face when considering sustainability are, Walker said: Cytiva has made sustainability one of our key business imperatives and we are committed to sustainability through to the core. The way we look at sustainability is through a threefold lens.” 

The first lens is people. Cytiva ask, “what can we do to maximise our impact on society?” They do that by looking at advancing health and society, as well as inclusion and diversity. Cytiva is actively working to make the organisation more inclusive and more diverse.  

The second lens is that of the planet. This is done through reducing impact on the planet and the environment by focussing on emissions, water, plastic and packaging, which is covered in more detail later in this article.  

The third lens is foundation. Cytiva ask themselves how they can build a strong foundation, so that they have an organisation that can truly meet its mission of advancing and accelerating therapeutics for generations to come. 

The team 

Walker said: “We are committed to this and we believe that this is something that we can’t tackle alone at Cytiva. It has got to be an industry-wide approach. So we work with our customers, other manufacturers, our suppliers, our associates, to make sure that this is something that’s ingrained into the culture of how we do business.” 

The core sustainability team at Cytiva is a full-time, focussed group looking at sustainability, and that team has grown as the world and Cytiva’s interest in sustainability has grown. Then, there is a steering committee which is made up of global cross-functional leaders across the business. They take sustainability into their functions, into their parts of the business, and make sure that it’s integrated into their parts of the business. Then they bring feedback back to the core team about where it needs to focus.  

Then they have what is called site sustainability champions. Walker said: “Every one of Cytiva’s manufacturing sites has a site champion. That individual is responsible for how they take sustainability into their sites and integrate both environmental and societal views of how we look at things. So we have multiple different ways in how we’re ingraining this into the culture of our business. We believe that you can’t do this with a small group, or an individual, or a core team. It has to be 10,000 of us working together on how we’re going to build sustainability into everything we do.” 

Carbon emissions  

Walker starts with carbon emissions. He explains: “We’re committed to reducing our carbon emissions at Cytiva and we want to do that through absolute reductions. We’re committed to moving our manufacturing sites to 100% renewable electricity by 2025. If all of our manufacturing sites are doing that, we can reduce our overall emissions as an organisation. To date, we have 40% of our manufacturing sites on renewable electricity, and that continues to grow every single year.” 

Cytiva is looking at carbon emissions across its supply chains. Walker elaborates: “We look at how we ship our products to our customers and where we can make changes to how we ship them. So, if we are currently shipping via air, which uses more carbon emissions or emits more carbon emissions then say by ocean or by rail, where it makes sense for our customers and where we can do it at Cytiva, we’re transitioning from air shipments to ocean or rail or ground shipments, which is greatly reducing our carbon emissions. That’s just in the carbon emission space. 


“We also are looking at how we move our fleet vehicles – the vehicles that we lease – to electric vehicles by 2030. 100% of our vehicles will be non-fuel combustion engines. Basically, there will be 100% electric vehicles. Currently, we have 11 European countries that have electric vehicles as options for our associates and we have even more when you’re looking at hybrid vehicles. 


“Then there’s packaging”, says Walker. “We are committed to eliminating polystyrene, or sometimes commonly referred to as Styrofoam, from our supply chain packaging. By 2025, we will no longer have polystyrene within our packaging and we are well on our way – we’re actually piloting as we speak, across the globe, the elimination and movement away from polystyrene to other materials that are both biodegradable and recyclable. 

“We also just launched a programme at our largest distribution site, where we are reducing the plastics in our consumables of our packaging. Think of when you, as a consumer, receive a package, and you see things like bubble wrap, or the tape on the package, or the labels, or what we call a void fill, where the boxes aren’t completely full, and they put plastic pillows in there. We were looking to reduce that plastic where we can. Just this week, we went live at our largest distribution site where we are reducing 82% of the plastics in our packaging, which equates in that one distribution site to seven tonnes of plastic per year.  

Single-use plastic  

Walker says: “We continue to look at plastics through two lenses: one end of life. Our customers want to work with us on how we can help them have alternatives and solutions for the end of life of the single-use plastics. Plastics are used industry-wide across the biopharma industry. And for good reason. They’ve shown throughlifecycle assessments that that they’re actually more environmentally friendly than the alternative, which was previously stainless steel. Single-use plastics in our industry use less chemicals, less water, and less energy than single-use plastic in other contexts. That said, we know that we still have a responsibility to help our customers have a solution for end of life, so we’ve put out recycling solutions with organisations like TerraCycle, who are helping us look at our syringe filters and how we reduce the consumption of plastics in landfills and incineration.  

“We’re also looking at the beginning or the birth of plastics. We just recently launched what we call Design for Sustainability, where every one of our NPIs, new products, that we put out in the market moving forward will take design for sustainability into account. So every phase gate that our NPIs go through as our product teams build out in NPI’s, now is incorporating sustainability elements into that so that we design with the environment and with society in mind at the outset, and not just at the end where it’s historically been the case for most organisations.” 

Drug discovery’s susceptibility to change 

Talking about the drug discovery industry’s potential when it comes to sustainability, Walker says: “What I love about sustainability is our entire industry has coalesced around it. You now have manufacturers, customers, suppliers, and even competitors working together because this is something that’s bigger than all of us. We say it quite often at Cytiva that we either all win, or we all lose – the planet does not care whether we are customer and manufacturer, competitor or not. The planet cares that we’re all jumping in and we’re doing our part. At Cytiva, we believe this is an industry-wide issue that we have to take on. 

“In my view, what’s really exciting is that sustainability has really come to the forefront, especially over the last few years. If you look back 10/15 years ago, not just in the biopharma industry, but across all industries, sustainability was not at the forefront. But in the last few years, it has come to the forefront. We are all working across this industry to tackle the biggest issues around waste, around carbon emissions, even around issues that are even more localised like water. So it’s exciting because you’re seeing this space grow.”  

The biggest challenge: Waste 

Walker thinks the biggest challenge for the industry right now is around waste. He says: “Waste is an area which we as an industry have to tackle and even though it seems at face value to be easy, when you consider our personal relationships with waste and recycling as people, I think it’s an area where we all have to work together. I think it’s also a space where it’s advancing the quickest. You see that the logistics providers and the packaging providers are coming out with new alternatives almost on a weekly or monthly basis that are giving us as manufacturers opportunities to bring more advancements to the space.”

Covid impact 

Walker says that Covid has actually accelerated the focus on sustainability, in general and at Cytiva. He says: “We have extremely aggressive and ambitious goals. I think Covid just furthered that. You saw what was possible with Covid where people are working from home as opposed to commuting to the office, you saw that, as I said earlier, the industry coalesced around finding a solution and vaccine. I think what that’s done within sustainability is it’s helped us as an industry to accelerate our viewpoint of what we can do around people and the planet.  

“Before, the industry would have said that this is 10/15/20 years out, or that it is not possible. I think now it’s in the minds of all of us that want to lead in this space: it’s possible, and we can do it faster, more aggressively and more efficiently than we even previously thought. So, no doubt, Covid has had incredible negative repercussions on society, but from a sustainability side and from Cytiva’s perspective, it’s actually accelerated and made us even more ambitious as to what we can accomplish in the near future.” 

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