Orion’s Sustainability Report 2020: The pandemic highlighted the importance of patient safety and the availability of medicines

Despite the exceptional year, Orion was able to improve the availability of its medicines. Other key achievements included the establishing of the code of conduct throughout the supply chain and the strengthening of the sustainability awareness of every staff member.

When talking about Orion and corporate responsibility, the absolute priorities must always be patient safety and the availability of medicines, which go closely hand in hand. In 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of the two was highlighted even further.

“The availability of Orion’s medicines remained good throughout the year, and towards the end of the year it even improved,” says Saara Hämäläinen, Corporate Responsibility Specialist.

“It was not enough that we adjusted only our own operations, because the pharmaceutical industry is highly dependent of partner networks. One of our advantages is the long-standing relationships that we have nurtured with our suppliers.”

The difficult year consolidated our sense of pride in crucial work

Timo Lappalainen, President and CEO of Orion, gives heartfelt thanks in the Sustainability Report to the competent and committed staff, to whom the continuous development in the area of sustainability is a major motivator.

Noora Paronen, Head of Corporate Responsibility, thinks that the sense of pride that the Orionees share in the crucial work that they are part of has grown even stronger during the pandemic.

“The past year has required flexibility and creativity from everyone – and it has also made us all work together for things that really matter,” she says.

The exceptional times have also taught new ways of working which are likely to remain part of the toolbox alongside the more traditional methods. For example, in quality assurance, which is a highly crucial part of the production, most of the audits were carried out remotely in 2020.

More than one half of the emission reduction target achieved

Another major achievement was that, despite the challenging times, Orion was able to make progress in all of the four themes of its sustainability agenda: patient safety, environmentally sustainable manufacturing, ethical and transparent business and responsibility for Orionees.

In the environmental areas, improvements have been made at a steady pace according to the report, although the coronavirus pandemic forced one of the energy-efficiency projects to be postponed until 2021.

“Despite this delay, we have achieved as much as 53 percent of the target set for our energy-efficiency programme,” Saara Hämäläinen says.

“In emissions, too, we have surpassed the 50 percent intermediate target, which means that Orion has reduced its emission of greenhouse gasses by 58 per cent compared to 2016, the benchmark year.”

The entire staff has received training in ethical business conduct

Paronen points out that corporate responsibility is all about long-term processes that take commitment and persistent development. Nowadays people are well aware that corporate responsibility is not something that can be outsourced or centralised in a specialist team, “the sustainability department”, as it penetrates all levels and aspects of operations.

At Orion, the corporate responsibility culture has permeated throughout the organisation: according to the staff survey, nearly 80 per cent of the respondents felt that corporate responsibility and sustainability formed an integral part of daily work and decision-making.

Shared responsibility is reinforced through the Sustainability in everything we do project and in 2020 the main priority was to improve every staff member’s awareness. For example, the aim was to make Code of Conduct, which sets the ethical ground rules for the business and which was updated in 2019, a staple read throughout the company.

“The Code of Conduct training is compulsory for every Orionee, including summer trainees, and the online course was completed by more than 3,400 people in 2020,” Saara says.

“We also published a sustainability online training package, which makes Orionees more familiar with the concept of sustainability, Orion’s sustainability programme and what corporate responsibility means specifically at Orion.”

The Code of Conduct governs the entire supply chain

An essential part of corporate responsibility is to extend its impact outside our own operations. Therefore the Code of Conduct is also binding on all of Orion’s suppliers. All partners must commit to compliance with Orion’s Third Party Code of Conduct.

The third-party sustainability processes have been updated gradually over the past few years. The updated processes were first introduced in direct sourcing, that is, with the suppliers of raw materials, packaging materials and ready-made pharmaceutical and self-care products, and now they have also been extended to indirect sourcing, such as services.

“In 2020, as much as 98 percent of our direct suppliers have adopted our Third Party Code of Conduct,” says Saara Hämäläinen.

Hämäläinen adds that certain key sustainability indicators used by Orion have been assured by a third party.

“It is our ambition to improve the quality and reliability of our sustainability reporting.”


Orion’s sustainability report for 2020 was published on 28 April 2021.

Text: Sanna Jäppinen