Circular economy framework for managing pharmaceutical waste in Malaysia

Lim, Shi Hao (2023) Circular economy framework for managing pharmaceutical waste in Malaysia. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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The main aim of this study was to develop a circular economy framework for managing pharmaceutical waste by proposing a consumer-centric process innovation model in Malaysia. This study explored policies on waste management and interviews were carried out among consumers, a community pharmacist, a pharmacist from the Ministry of Health and a pharmacist with a local pharmaceutical company manufacturer to understand the perspectives of these various stakeholders on pharmaceutical waste management from reverse supply chain point of view.

In line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Malaysia has set up the National Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Council coordinated by the Economic Planning Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department. Plannings and resource allocations have been made in alignment with the five-year national development plan, started with the Eleventh Malaysia Plan from 2016 to 2020 and will continue with the Twelfth Malaysia Plan from 2021 to 2025 and the Thirteenth Malaysia Plan from 2026 to 2030.

The circular economy has gained recognition as a tool to achieve SDGs by removing unsustainable components out of product lifecycle design and has been set as one of the Twelfth Malaysia Plan targets to enable Malaysia moving towards long term climate and socio-economic resilience, removing unsustainable production and consumption behaviours which has been proven harmful to the environment. It is also recognised as an essential part of environment, social and governance practices, which is recognised by the Securities Commission Malaysia via FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia Index and the Ministry of Finance via the Malaysia Sustainable Development Goals Trust Fund.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the now recognised climate crisis as a health crisis, led to this year’s theme for World Health Day 2022 as “Our Planet, Our Health”. It is a clear recognition of the urgency and importance to improve our relationship with the natural world, including reducing healthcare waste. The size of the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector in Malaysia was reported at RM64 billion and RM12.5 billion respectively, which means there is a huge opportunity from adopting a circular economy to ensure a more resilient supply chain and reducing negative impacts to the environment.

Improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste would lead to pharmacopollution where some active pharmaceutical ingredients and endocrine-disrupting compounds dispersed through water and/or soil. It has been reported traces of medicines have been found in water sources and even in drinking water. Marine lives were affected and findings suggested improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste has resulted in gender abnormalities in fishes. Another ongoing real life challenge to the healthcare industry is the antibiotics resistance which was fuelled by this phenomenon.

This study focuses on pharmaceuticals which are regulated under the Poisons Act 1952 and the Sales of Drugs Act 1952. Based on the latest published data, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency of Malaysia has approved 24,024 products. Pharmaceutical waste is regulated under the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Waste) Regulations 2005, the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Regulations 2006 and the Guidelines on the Handling and Management of Clinical Wastes in Malaysia.

Waste management is a major issue in Malaysia. Over the years, Malaysians have consistently generated an increasing amount of waste, while recycling at a lower rate than other developed countries. There is no habit among consumers to segregate domestic waste, including toxic electronic waste such as batteries, even after the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 came into force on 1 September 2015, which made it compulsory for consumers to segregate waste at source. Some would have argued that this is due to the lax enforcement, low penalty imposed under the law and the mixing of solid waste during the disposal stage, despite efforts by some households to sort their trash.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: Lim, Shi
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2023 04:28
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023 04:28

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