Richard Payne, section chief – healthcare at Ultrapolymers, discusses methods to scale back the environmental affect of medical expertise.

Medical gadgets are important for enhancing the well being and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of individuals world wide. Lately, their environmental affect has come beneath rising scrutiny; from the supplies and vitality utilized in manufacturing and operation to the disposal of waste.

Sustainability in medtech brings a number of advantages to the setting, society, and financial system:

  • Decreasing air pollution
  • Saving pure sources and vitality
  • Minimising waste technology
  • Enhancing product efficiency, sturdiness, and buyer notion
  • Enhancing innovation to assist drive the business in a extra round and sustainable path

What does sustainability in medtech imply? For some, sustainability means changing all plastic supplies (which can or is probably not ‘environmentally pleasant’). Others wish to scale back CO2 emissions, the quantity of fabric going to landfill, or the quantity of fossil fuel-based polymers used. Understanding the target of the product is prime in choosing the proper path for growth.

Sustainability in medtech will be achieved in a wide range of methods. Some embody:


On the design stage, now we have the best alternative to affect the sustainability of the product. Sympathetic design can retain performance while opening alternatives to make use of extra sustainable polymers. At this stage, you may engineer the potential for reusing or recycling and take away complexities within the design to streamline the variety of polymers used.

Materials choice

The calls for of medtech functions restrict what supplies can be utilized. With the necessity to stability consistency, high quality, regulatory approvals, and dependable provide, the first possibility is bio-attributed or mass-balanced options from our provide companions LyondellBasell, INEOS Styrolution, BASF and extra. Bio-attributed supplies have constructive impacts on the carbon footprint of a part, by changing different polymers with greater carbon footprints or a weak recycling chain. With an understanding of the important thing materials necessities, Ultrapolymers can implement its portfolio to seek out the proper resolution in your product throughout its life, and on the finish.

The manufacturing course of

There are a number of components which affect the sustainability of the manufacturing course of. One is geography; producing merchandise native to the goal market reduces international delivery. Environment friendly, native, just-in-time manufacturing permits for a lean and fewer carbon intensive manufacture.

It is usually value contemplating the tools used to mould these components. Are the most recent, environment friendly machines used? Is there entry to inexperienced vitality sources? And the way can we optimise the manufacturing course of to minimise waste? Can we seize and re-use any scrap in acceptable functions, even whether it is downcycling?

The tip of life

Most merchandise at a while will attain the top of their helpful life. This necessitates disposal, nonetheless, the design decisions taken earlier broaden the choices accessible to us now. In some instances, we are able to re-use or mechanically recycle the waste supplies by way of ‘enhanced cleansing’ to make use of it in comparable or downcycled functions. Lastly, on the horizon, there may be chemical recycling, a a lot heralded however nonetheless upcoming expertise which might open vital channels for additional circularity in polymers.

Regardless of the potential advantages of sustainability in medtech there are limitations to its widespread adoption:

  • Threat: The standard of medical gadgets is paramount and steps to introduce sustainability might affect this. With the implications of failures, recollects or worse the danger/reward stability is a high quality line.
  • Regulation: To introduce supplies aside from fossil gasoline or bio-attributed grades are a problem because the regulatory necessities for healthcare functions preclude their use. Discovering the low-risk areas to affect is a key first step.
  • Time: The event cycle of medical gadgets in addition to their life out there is lengthy. The price to re-specify is important subsequently it’s tough to justify the time.
  • Lack of incentives and sources: Though sustainability is alleged to be necessary many end-users need it as a no or low-cost possibility. Sadly, that is simply not an possibility now, the premium for bio-attributed options is noticeable so there should be an actual want for adoption.

Nonetheless, these limitations current alternatives for enchancment and innovation and that’s the place, in collaboration with designers, model homeowners and converters, Ultrapolymers can supply assist and expertise within the growth of thrilling, new, and sustainable merchandise for medtech functions.

Ultrapolymers might be exhibiting at Med-Tech Innovation Expo on 7-8 at June on the NEC, Birmingham, on Stand D20. To register for FREE, go to www.med-techexpo.com