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Actavis expands renewable energy powered pharma manufacturing plant

By Alexandria Pešić, 19-Jan-2011

Related topics: Packaging machinery & supplies, Processing equipment, Ingredients

Actavis has expanded its renewable energy powered pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Iceland for tablet manufacturing and packaging.

Speaking about the €8m ($10.8m) expansion, Claudio Albrecht, Actavis CEO, said: “This latest investment increases the production capacity in Iceland by 50 per cent, giving us a significantly increased launch capability for the EU market. This is our principal development and launch site for Europe.”

Albrecht said the Hafnarfjordur manufacturing site produces many of Activis’ generics and specialises in new product launches. He added that the site exports 96 per cent of its products to European markets and following the expansion, production capacity will rise to around 1.5bn tablets.

As the site is 100 per cent powered by geothermal energy, Actavis claims it is the most eco-friendly pharmaceutical facility in the world and said the expansion will support the Icelandic economy by adding 50 jobs to a workforce of 300 people.

The facility is ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certified and is powered by electricity from hydropower and geothermal heating, “giving it a zero carbon footprint for tablet manufacturing and packaging and using no fossil fuels,” said Albrecht.

Sustainable energy suitable elsewhere?

Iceland boasts a plentiful supply of geothermal energy which is ideal for powering a manufacturing plant, but solar power is similarly well-suited for sites in California, and other drugmakers have also recognised the benefits of employing sustainable energy sources.

In 2009, Novartis invested $7m (€5.3m) in over 4,100 solar panels at its Vacaville, California, pharmaceutical plant. The firm said the panels benefit the environment and generate less expensive electricity, contributing 20 per cent of the site’s energy requirements.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) last year began adding a rooftop solar array to its Northeast Regional Distribution Centre in Pennsylvania, US. Once completed, GSK’s solar system will be made of 11,000 Suntech panels, producing 3.4 MW of electricity each year and making the buildings entirely self sufficient. This came as part of the drug giant’s strategy to reduce electricity usage by 45 per cent by 2015.