Improving Your Environmental Reputation 

By Alissa Gould, Boiron USA, Director of Communications 

It’s easy to argue that homeopathic manufacturing companies are ecological. Afterall, a small amount of resources from Mother Earth, most of which are plants or minerals, goes a long way due to the homeopathic dilution process. No harmful chemicals, solvents, or complex reagents are used in the manufacturing process; production creates little if any toxic waste. Impact on the environment is negligible. 

Is the nature of the process enough to claim your company is environmentally responsible? Consumers of homeopathic medicines tend to be passionate and well educated on sustainability practices. It may take more effort to earn the positive reputation that appeals to and drives sales with homeopathic users. 

Going green also has its economic benefits. It reduces waste and therefore saves money on operation costs. Becoming more sustainable now can be a long-term investment in complying with future regulations and the ability to cope with dwindling energy resources. And it can attract new talent. 

As companies strive to balance business operations with minimizing environmental impact, this article hopes to inspire ideas in ways in which small and large companies can improve their backyard footprint or make a positive global impact. 

Start with Small or Gradual Efforts Applicable to Any Business 

Create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee or Ethics Committees. Enlist representatives from different departments to look for small ways to make a difference and recommend initiatives to the senior management. 

  • Eliminate trashcans at individual desks to reduce plastic trash bags. Create central collection areas to recycle paper. This also saves on janitorial services. 
  • In the employee cafeteria, compost food and set up bins to collect plastic, cans, and glass. 
  • Replace paper cups with glassware — and a dishwasher! Use compostable utensils and plates. 
  • Discourage disposable water bottles with central filling stations for filtered water. 
  • Recycle or reuse as much as possible: paper, office supplies, printing toners, furniture. Dismantle and recycle electronics. 
  • Switch to bamboo toilet paper to save trees! 
  • Opt for videoconferences rather than travel. 

Recycling Waste Specific to Homeopathic Manufacturing 

Be sure to work with a local recycling process center. This reduces transportation costs and contributes to the local economy. 

  • Compose botanical material involved in the production of homeopathic active ingredients. Composing is very beneficial and reduces the tonnage of buried waste. 
  • Much can be done with the sugar used in the production of traditional homeopathic pellets. Sugar water can be used to catalyze composting. Boiron’s headquarters in France captures sugar using air filters. This high value-added organic “dust” and solid sugar is fed to livestock and used by beekeepers. 
  • Incinerate with energy recovery medicinal waste, chemical waste, and refrigerants. 
  • Recover and reuse solvents. 
  • Recycle empty tanks. 
  • Recycle packaging, such as paperboard boxes, wooden pallets, plastic films, and big bags. 
  • Eliminate plastic wrappers around packaging when shipping. 
  • Use efficient packaging materials for shipping products. 
  • Create Green Packaging 

Check out AAHP’s article, “Sustainable Packaging: Considerations for Homeopathic Manufacturers for more information the basics below: 

  • Use sustainably sourced paperboard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, or recycled fibers in packaging. 
  • Reduce or eliminate unsustainable polymers (PVC, PS). Choose friendlier polymers for displays, blister packs, or multi-dose tubes. 
  • Reduce carton size. 

Water Resource Initiatives 

Essential to the homeopathic manufacturing process is purified water, which requires water itself. 

  • Control water consumption through clean in-place systems for most production lines that reduce consumption and allow for recovery of sugar and detergent-laden (phosphorus) rinse water for treatment. 
  • Control wastewater created in production through onsite retention, onsite testing, and onsite pre-treatment station. 

Reduce Energy Consumption 

Invest a little more to reduce your carbon footprint with technologies that will yield a return on investment. 

  • Install automated systems such as motion detectors that turn lighting on and off. Other energy-efficient lights dim based on the amount of sunlight coming through the windows. 
  • Open floor plans allow for better airflow throughout the building and provide natural light to more employees. 
  • Smart heating and air conditioning based on occupancy can conserve energy when the buildings are not in use during evenings and weekends. 
  • Upgrade your building with solar panels, or reduce absorption and loss of heat through insulation and blinds. 
  • Establish fuel economy standards for the company’s automobile fleet to reduce CO2 emissions. For supply chain transportation, move toward electric or hybrid vehicles. Offer employees, especially traveling sales reps, incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle. Organize an old-school carpool for more centrally located staff. 
  • Shorten supply chains or incorporate into the timeline slower transportation rather than shipping material by plane. 

Think Locally; Be a Good Community Neighbor 

  • Work with your local municipality to donate planting trees. 
  • Choose native flowers for office landscaping and remove invasive plants on company grounds. 
  • Minimize watering landscaping through moisture detectors. 
  • Support a local co-op farmer by stocking apples or other seasonal fruits for employees. 
  • Last year, Boiron USA installed a walking path that benefits employees and the community’s health. 

Choose Partners with Similar Missions 

Start by developing criteria for environmental stewardship. Then strive for true partnerships with retailers that embody shared standards and values in terms of environmental protection and sustainability. Choose labs that take lab animals’ living conditions into account. 

Work with harvesters who practice ethical sourcing, sustainable harvesting, or promote re-supplying of wild or organically farmed plants. These practices improve plant quality and ensure survival for future generations. Ask for certifications from the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) for medicinal plants set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). Expert botanist-harvesters are knowledgeable of plant health and conservation strategies for harvesting; they are conscious not to overharvest wild plants in their natural habitats. 

Last, your greatest partnership can be with employees. Offer incentives to staff to join in the effort. 

Be Creative 

For inspiration, I leave you with a fun program adopted at my company’s headquarters located in rural France. To eliminate mowing, Solognote sheep can be seen grazing the Boiron campus grounds.