Is the Irish Pharmaceutical Industry Prepared for the Future of Water Use in Ireland?

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Cournane M, Deirdre
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In this study the Irish pharmaceutical industry was assessed as being in a state of preparedness for implementation of water sustainability strategies. Water use by industrial sites is at a transitionary phase. Global climate change, new legislative requirements, and the continuing pressures of faster production are all impacting water use. Sustainable use of water is a holistic stakeholder-inclusive process, which is balanced from a social and cultural viewpoint. It benefits both the environment and economy. The main study objective was to evaluate the preparedness of the Irish pharmaceutical industry in adoption of water sustainability practices and to identify the critical success factors which may be recommended for the industry. Through an exploratory quantitative and qualitative mixed methods approach aligned with an interpretivist research philosophy, primary data was collected from participants who were purposively selected from a homogenous sampling pool. This consisted of those directly employed in the pharmaceutical industry. Primary data produced from this study highlighted that there were good levels of, understanding of what water sustainability means; support from senior management; and diverse sustainability strategies employed at the surveyed sites. Dissatisfaction with the current incentive structures by government was also found. These incentives are necessary to build greater awareness of, and the benefits to, water sustainability, and to develop an enabling environment. The biggest challenges and barriers experienced by these sites were capital investment, industry knowledge and understanding of the sustainability concept, and resources at the site. Critical success factors were identified as the understanding of the concept of water sustainability, which encompasses the water lifecycle both in- and out-side the site, and engagement with peers and regulatory bodies to facilitate education, training, and peer-to-peer learning in a stakeholder enabled-environment. This study’s conclusive determination was the Irish pharmaceutical industry is well placed for implementation of water sustainability practices, but that concerns remain regarding financial investment and increased understanding of the concept across the industry. Further research is necessary to address the shortfalls of the incentivization structure from government and to understand how challenges within the industry may be overcome to increase wider uptake of water sustainability strategies.
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