Takeda, Mitsubishi Logistics and JR Freight collaborate to reduce CO2 emissions in transportation of pharmaceuticals: A modal shift in transportation for domestic distributors

Sep. 28, 2023

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Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation 
Japan Freight Railway Company

- Takeda, Mitsubishi Logistics and JR Freight have initiated a modal shift from road to rail transportation with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions in the transportation of pharmaceuticals.
- The use of temperature-controlled railway containers enables transportation of pharmaceuticals in line with relevant guidelines. When compared to the current transportation method, a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 60% is expected.
- Through this partnership, we will continue to innovate while reducing our environmental impact. Takeda will continue its efforts to positively impact other companies through industry-leading initiatives. 

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Osaka; President and CEO: Christophe Weber; hereinafter “Takeda”), Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director and President: Hidechika Saito; hereinafter “Mitsubishi Logistics”) and Japan Freight Railway Company (Head Office: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, President, Director and Executive Officer: Shin Inukai; hereinafter “JR Freight”) have decided to begin a modal shift from road to rail transportation for a part of Takeda’s domestic pharmaceuticals bound for its distributors in Japan, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions.

At present, most pharmaceuticals in Japan are transported by road. Takeda outsources this transportation to Mitsubishi Logistics, which until now has primarily used trucks. But while rail is a significantly less environmentally burdensome mode of transportation, with low CO2 emissions, in the transportation of pharmaceuticals there are many issues to consider, such as vibration and temperature control. For these reasons, the switch to rail has lagged compared with the transportation of other types of goods, including agricultural products, industrial goods, and combined cargo.

Takeda, Mitsubishi Logistics and JR Freight recently examined the feasibility of delivering pharmaceuticals by rail in Japan. The three companies decided to use temperature-controlled railroad containers and implement various security measures to ensure that the quality of the pharmaceuticals is properly managed, and that they are delivered in accordance with Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guidelines. The switch to rail transportation for some of Takeda’s distributors in Japan will start in October.

After a license for rail transportation is obtained, the trunk line for transportation from Tokyo to the northern Tohoku region will be switched to rail, and only the transportation up to and after those points will be by truck, which is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 60%*1 from the current level. In addition, reducing long-distance road transportation will make a significant contribution to addressing the government’s 2024 Logistics Problem*2. Moving forward, Takeda plans to gradually expand the area covered by rail transportation and the number of participating distributors. The data platform ML Chain, which has been in operation since January 2022, will be used to visualize temperature and location data to achieve seamless end-to-end quality control of pharmaceutical transportation by rail freight container, an effort that is one of the first of its kind in Japan.

Greg Timmons, Head of Global Manufacturing & Supply Japan at Takeda, said, “We have a responsibility to continue to deliver high quality medicines to patients while reducing our impact on the global environment, and this initiative forms part of our commitment to that responsibility. I am delighted that our partnership with Mitsubishi Logistics and JR Freight is setting a new standard in the transportation of pharmaceuticals and is taking into account environmental considerations while continuing to innovate. I look forward to promoting these efforts with the aim of positively impacting other companies.”

Hitoshi Wakabayashi, Senior Managing Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Logistics said, “This initiative, realized through collaboration between a pharmaceutical manufacturer, its logistics partner, and a rail operator, will ensure reliable transportation while guaranteeing reliable quality for every customer. I am happy that this initiative will help reduce the burden on the global environment and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain. We will continue to push on with various new environmental initiatives.”

Hidehito Takahashi, Executive Officer and Senior General Manager of Sales Marketing Management Department, Railway Business Headquarters of JR Freight, said, “Through this initiative, we have demonstrated the feasibility of rail transportation that complies with GDP guidelines, thereby expanding the possibilities of rail transportation in the domestic distribution of pharmaceuticals. Through this initiative, we will help establish an environmentally friendly and sustainable supply chain for domestic pharmaceutical transportation.”

Takeda is committed to creating long-term value for all patients, the people we work with and the planet that gives us life. As part of this commitment, we are working with our suppliers to reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. The Mitsubishi Logistics Group is also striving to reduce CO2 emissions through efficient transportation and delivery as part of its ESG management/SDG initiatives, while JR Freight is reducing CO2 emissions by providing highly environmentally friendly freight rail transportation services.

Takeda, Mitsubishi Logistics, and JR Freight will continue to research ways to lessen their environmental impact by increasing their service area and the number of participating distributors.

*1 Calculated by Mitsubishi Logistics and JR Freight based on the “Joint Guidelines for Calculating CO2 Emissions in the Logistics Sector” jointly prepared by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. 
*2 Reference: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, “The 2024 Logistics Problem.”
 https://www.mlit.go.jp/policy/shingikai/content/001620626.pdf (Japanese only)

Takeda Pharmaceutical
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE: 4502/NYSE: TAK) works toward providing better health and a brighter future for people worldwide. It is committed to discovering and delivering innovative treatments in its key therapeutic areas of Gastroenterology, Rare Diseases, Plasma-Derived Therapies, Neuroscience, Oncology and Vaccines. Together with our partners, we are working to build a robust and diverse pipeline of new medicines to deliver new treatment options and improve quality of life for patients. Headquartered in Japan, Takeda is a global, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader with patient-centered values that have shaped its corporate philosophy for more than two centuries. It operates in approximately 80 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.takeda.com.

Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation 
Mitsubishi Logistics Corporation provides integrated logistics services ranging from warehousing to land transportation and international transport. Through these services, it supports the supply chains of a wide range of customers in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, electronics and automotive parts industries. In the pharmaceutical area, they provide high-quality logistics services by leveraging the know-how they have amassed over nearly 40 years of operating distribution centers for several pharmaceutical manufacturers. For more information, please visit https://www.mitsubishi-logistics.co.jp/.

Japan Freight Railway Company
Japan Freight Railway Company transports freight by rail utilizing its nationwide rail network. Freight rail makes it possible to move large volumes of goods in a highly environmentally friendly way, especially for medium- to long-distance transport. JR Freight will continue to promote its comprehensive logistics business based on its rail network, providing customers with optimal one-stop logistics solutions. For more information, please visit https://www.jrfreight.co.jp/