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Pharmactive ramps up its sustainability policy

10/01/2022 – Sustainability / Pharmactive / Biodiversity / Botanicals / Saffron / Black Garlic

Pharmactive ramps up its sustainability policy

Pharmactive’s eco-management protocol has received ISO endorsement, as the firm doubles down on promoting biodiversity and rural workforces.

Madrid-headquartered Pharmactive Bioactive S.L.U. has unveiled its long-term sustainability programme – emphasising fair-trade, boosting local women’s workforces, reducing energy consumption and waste through upcycling, and promoting crops that support biodiversity. 

The company has also certified its Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001:2015. 

Such efforts are part of the company’s strong resolve to ensure its operations remain “in harmony with the fabric of the natural environment” and “to bolster local rural communities”, the botanicals producer said in a statement.

Sustainable sourcing and production protocols

Pharmactive is cementing its sustainable sourcing and production protocols while conserving complete control of its supply channels to bring customers high-quality, ethically sourced, organic-certified botanicals. This is especially evident in both its flagship affron® saffron extract and its ABG+® line of aged black garlic products. The company has secured two patents for its innovative green extraction processes of these botanicals.

As part of its robust environmental policy, the botanical ingredient producer has devised a long-term contract farming plan to reinforce the local economy and workforce of remote areas of the Castille-La-Mancha region of Spain and promote Spanish culture heritage preservation.

‘Repopulate Empty Spain’ initiatives

Pharmactive’s saffron is homegrown and nurtured in its private fields nestled in the picturesque rural community of Castilla-La-Mancha, Spain. Its contract-farming support program is designed to secure the income and livelihoods of the farmers living within the provinces of this sparsely populated region. In return, the farmers must commit to the traditional and ecological agricultural and harvesting practices delineated by the company. 

“Spain is scattered with rural areas dubbed ‘empty Spain’ due to populations abandoning these towns to seek better employment opportunities within the larger metropolises,” explained Julia Diaz, Head of Marketing for Pharmactive. “Castille is considered an important ancient agrarian cultural heritage site of Spain, yet it has been suffering from this ‘ghost town’ syndrome. As a result, the government is pushing incentives to attract people to the region, and we have deployed our initiatives to try and help our government reverse the trend.”

Beyond its activities in negotiating attractive pay schemes and work contracts with the farmers, Pharmactive’s carefully devised programme essentially ensures that farmers can sell their full harvest every year by creating demand. The company also works to promote employment prospects for women in the region. For example, saffron harvesting requires manual picking. Likewise, the delicate stigmas also must be separated from the flowers by hand. The experienced hands of local senior women are employed to fully separate the stigmas from the flower, avoiding the use of machinery. A side benefit is that the method requires no energy consumption and does not cause waste emissions. Additionally, it means that unemployed senior women living in such suburbs are provided an opportunity to contribute their knowhow while keeping alive an ancient tradition.

Giving back to the earth

The company adheres to the Spanish agricultural tradition of ‘Barbecho’. It designates periods for letting its private fields lie fallow, allowing the land to rejuvenate and restore its organic matter. Such fallowing is applied every six to eight years. 

“This practice exerts a positive impact through multiple mechanisms,” explained Jean-Marie Raymond, CEO at Pharmactive. “It enriches the ecosystem, promotes biodiversity, and benefits pollinating insects. It also protects endangered species, such as several native steppe habitat birds, and helps naturally control pests, fungi, and weeds. Furthermore, this ancient practice gives us a means of sustaining the Earth so that it can continue to sustain us.”  

The Castilla-La-Mancha appellation of origin encourages avoiding the use of phytosanitary chemicals in saffron cultivation and promotes the use of natural fertilisers.

From farm to shelf

Pharmactive has also certified its Environmental Management System to ISO standards. This certification serves to endorse the company’s proactivity in ensuring its entire operations from farming to extraction to distribution are eco-supportive.

“Such controlled processes enable Pharmactive to guarantee the organic quality of its locally grown ingredients, helping brands it serves to stay green,” added Mr. Raymond. “Garlic for our certified organic ABG+ is cultivated just two hours away from where it is aged and processed in Madrid, minimising the environmental impact of transportation.”

Colleague Ms. Diaz noted that her firm remained “committed to developing a fair and enduring relationship with the communities involved in the sourcing and processing saffron”, adding in closing that “Pharmactive’s operations are based on solid principles of respect for the environment and a desire to contribute to the quality of life of communities we work with and the consumers we serve.”

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