Cigna is committed to creating innovative, value-driven solutions across its home delivery back-end fulfillment sites. In 2019, we identified a feasible solution for greener shipping of temperature-sensitive medications. Our back-end fulfillment site in Florence, NJ participated in an eight-week pilot testing the environmental impact and operational feasibility of a plant-based recyclable cooler.
Typically, we utilize molded expanded polystyrene (otherwise known as EPS/Styrofoam) coolers in our cold chain.1 The recyclable cooler that we piloted had thermal properties comparable to our regularly used EPS/Styrofoam coolers, and even performed slightly better.
Over 12,000 coolers were shipped to patients during the pilot, which allowed us to test the efficacy of the product and also to somewhat mitigate the negative impacts of our EPS/Styrofoam coolers on the environment.
The cooler pilot provided us with meaningful results and a strategy for how we can advance our enterprise’s back-end sustainability efforts and reduce our carbon footprint. In 2020, we intend to move forward with this initiative with the goal of ultimately eliminating the use of EPS/Styrofoam coolers across our back-end sites.
1The term cold chain or cool chain denotes the series of actions and equipment applied to maintain a product within a specified low-temperature range from production to use. A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain. An unbroken cold chain is an uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, storage, and distribution activities, along with associated equipment and logistics, which maintain a desired low-temperature range. It is used to preserve, extend, and ensure the shelf life of products.