Recycling and Waste Management

Roche, like other pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, uses relatively low volumes of chemicals and, thus, generates small quantities of chemical waste. We nevertheless continue to reduce this waste as our manufacture of biotech products increases and chemical-based products declines.

We have adopted the following waste management policy:

  • First, avoid generating waste.

  • Second, re-use materials where possible.

  • Third, if re-use is not possible, the waste materials are recycled.

  • Fourth, if recycling is not possible, then the waste is sold as secondary products.

  • Fifth, if not possible all remaining waste is incinerated.

  • Only as a last resort do we dispose of waste – and only inert materials.

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit communities and the environment in numerous ways, including:

  • preventing waste of potentially useful materials

  • reducing the consumption of fresh raw materials

  • cutting energy usage

  • decreasing air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling)

We recycle chemicals, including waste solvents from production processes and parts of diagnostic devices, wherever technically feasible and financially justifiable. Since 2010 Roche has recycled the majority of its chemical waste internally.

At Roche, we are committed to the responsible use of resources as a way to reduce waste. We also accept responsibility for all waste generated at our operations, including that previously deposited at our sites or at landfills.

We permit landfilling only as a last resort and, even then, only for inert materials. Depending on the availability of suitable local waste-treatment plants, we may dispose of non-hazardous general waste in authorised landfills. We prohibit the landfilling of chemical and problematic medicinal waste.

The synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients and manufacture of dosage forms and diagnostic reagents give rise to secondary products. Ultimately, these products must be disposed of as chemical waste.

We incinerate the majority of this waste, approximately 89%. The rest, consisting of sewage sludge and inert material such as ash or slag from incineration, is landfilled. In addition, some residual substances may be sold as secondary products.

General waste encompasses all waste arising from activities other than chemical-pharmaceutical production. It includes paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, wood and electronic equipment and construction waste, which consists mainly of rubble. Waste minimization and reduction measures are not only restricted to production processes but are evaluated and implemented across all operations at Roche. We strive for eco-efficient solutions, which show both, a reduction in the environmental burden and an economic benefit, e.g. reduction in raw material and disposal cost.

Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water for the general protection of human health and the environment or from a brownfield site intended for redevelopment. Remediation is generally subject to an array of regulatory requirements, and also can be based on assessments of human health and ecological risks where no legislated standards exist or where standards are advisory.

Historically, the use of landfills has been commonly accepted and utilized as the method of disposal. However, improved knowledge of geological characteristics and adverse impacts associated with chemical contamination of soil and groundwater through the disposal of waste — in particular hazardous waste — in landfills now represents a potential long-term risk for man and the environment. Roche believes that existing landfills containing hazardous wastes threatening the environment should be addressed proactively, even if this entails applying solutions exceeding the individual country’s legal framework. The issue should be resolved entirely and sustainably and no long-term continuous technical processes, i.e. pumping and treating of leachates from a contaminated site, should be required to keep the existing risk at bay.

We accept responsibility for all waste generated at our operations, including that previously deposited at our sites or landfills. We permit landfilling only as a last resort and, even then, only for inert materials such as slag or incineration ash. Depending on the availability of suitable local waste-treatment plants, we may dispose of non-hazardous general waste in authorized landfills.

In Switzerland, Roche and other companies continue to clean up hazardous waste landfills at Kölliken and Bonfol. As a former user of the Kesslergrube landfill in Grenzach, Germany, Roche is studying possible remediation options. We are also evaluating various remedial approaches at our former production site in Belleville, New Jersey, USA.

In 2012 Roche announced the planned shut-down of operations at its site in Nutley, New Jersey. As a consequence and in view of a future sale of the property, Roche has accelerated its efforts, under state regulatory oversight, to fully investigate and remediate the soil and groundwater conditions at the site. Early remediation activities that are either completed or underway include groundwater treatment, soil excavation and operation of soil vapour extraction systems.

For more information, please see our position paper under the following link:

In 1976 a severe accident happened in Seveso, North Italy. Givaudan (which was owned by Roche by then), the owner of the factory in Seveso at that time, together with Roche took all measures to remediate the site and properly dispose of all contaminated material. For all details about this incident and the remediation process see the following documents:

Givaudan was spun off from Roche in June 2000. They took over all responsibilities for the Seveso case. In case of questions please contact them.

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