With a revamped shipping material design, OptumRx reportedly has become the first pharmacy care company to launch fully sustainable packaging for drug shipments. The upgraded packaging replaces polystyrene blocks with cotton-fiber pads, while providing temperature and physical protection for delicate medications in transit.

“Our priority is ensuring people get the high-quality medications they need, when they need them,” says Jon Mahrt, svp and COO, OptumRx. “Our new packaging ensures each shipment maintains the highest standard of quality and effectiveness, while reducing the environmental footprint of our medication home delivery services.”

The new packaging consists of natural cotton fiber pads, with material sourced by KodiaKooler, a company based in North Carolina. According to Mahrt, the KodiaKotton pads—certified by an independent third-party laboratory using ASTM test standards—can keep refrigerated medications between 2 and 8 degrees C during shipping; it also increases the previous 24-hour protection. Additionally, the material is biodegradable, compostable, reusable and recyclable.

Projected for use with approximately 4 million prescriptions each year, OptumRx predicts the sustainable container design will save nearly 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 17 million gallons of water and 4 million kW hours of energy.

Mahrt says the new packaging fits in with the company’s goal of improving patient health in various ways.

“The environment plays an important role in the health of every community,” he says. “OptumRx is always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact in our medication home delivery services.” Mahrt added the company’s sustainability efforts include increasing water and energy efficiency, streamlining recycling and waste management programs, and encouraging employees and partners to engage in environmental stewardship.

Read more at Packaging Digest