Bristol-Myers Squibb: Application of Principles of Green Chemistry Leads to Significant Reductions in Material Waste


In an effort to reduce process waste and improve efficiency, staff at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) leveraged the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Principles of Green Chemistry to enhance their sustainability efforts. After researching various resources, the team decided to align their waste reduction program with the Principles of Green Chemistry, 12 principles outlining what makes a greener chemical, process, or product.

BMS’s existing sustainability plan was developed within the context of building a circular economy. Incorporating the Principles of Green Chemistry was seen as an opportunity to focus those efforts, with the company setting a new target to assess more than 90% of new products in its R&D portfolio for improved environmental impact.

The approach developed by BMS staff was distilled into four main principles:

  • Reduce waste wherever possible,
  • Reuse materials wherever possible,
  • Maximize effective use of resources,
  • Encourage responsible use of their products.

To measure their improvements, BMS staff utilized the process mass intensity metric (PMI). The PMI, developed by the ACS, expresses the ratio of the weights of all input materials (water, solvents, reagents and process aids) to the weight of the final product. The PMI is given by the following equation: 



By reusing materials, intensifying reaction solvent volume, reducing and eliminating extensive chemical workup, and selecting more appropriate solvents, BMS was able to reduce the PMI of 9 compounds in clinical trials by 66%, which eliminated 14 metric tons of waste. The company also achieved $57 million in cost avoidance on R&D study supplies as a result of comprehensive process optimization.

BMS is actively working on enterprise targets to improve the environmental impact of their product packaging.  This work currently focuses on making significant reductions in the volume of product packaging, including the first delivery of electronic inserts for one product. These efforts led to a ~ 40% reduction in transportation GHG emissions and just under $1 million in annual savings for shipping per year.  The company’s commitments in this space includes partnerships with critical suppliers drive innovative redesign and recycling opportunities for packaging materials and containers.