How Can We Improve Our Well-Being… and Sustainability?

Reusable, Durable Medical Gear Helps

Sustainable Development Goals

Many people view sustainability primarily through an environment lens: producing clean energy, driving down greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating pollution on land and at sea and so on.

But the United Nations has identified a much broader set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Including #3: “To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

We need to balance the 17 approaches to sustainability

To protect our health, some medical items are used only once and discarded: surgical gloves, bandages, needles, etc.

Fortunately, quite a bit of today’s medical gear can be sterilized and reused, which helps drive down waste and the use of limited resources.

Durable materials give this gear a longer life… contributing both to health/well-being and environmental sustainability.

Medical IV Bag and Gloves

PLUS: Recent innovations in modern materials are taking these improvements a step further, contributing even more to sustainability… and often to a better experience for us all.

Let’s take a look at a few of these innovations…

Needle Free Injection

Let’s face it: needles hurt. Needle-free Injection Systems (NFIS) can deliver a vaccine or medicine with a narrow stream of fluid that penetrates the skin in about 1/10 of a second. The tough plastic (polycarbonate) device can stand up to gamma radiation and ethylene oxide sterilization.

Drug Delivery Device

Medical devices made from multiple materials can be a hassle to recycle. A new proof-of-concept drug delivery device demonstrates that using a medical grade plastic (polycarbonate) can deliver durability and functionality… while allowing for easier disassembly, sorting and recycling at end of life. Plus, there’s a renewable content plastic option with a lower carbon footprint.

Longer-lasting Medical Equipment

In hospitals, hygiene can be a matter of life and death. Cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment – imaging machines, diagnostic equipment, even hospital beds – is critical. But alcohols, peroxides and ammonium compounds can shorten the lifespan of these costly devices. Today’s equipment made with modern, tough, durable plastic materials (e.g., polycarbonate co-polymers) can remain in service longer, reducing the environmental and financial impact of replacements.

Upcycled Plastic in Medical Equipment

Medical equipment that is long-lasting and durable can reduce the environmental footprint of medical care. Can we drive down these impacts even further? Making the equipment from recycled materials can help. One example: a tough medical grade plastic (polybutylene terephthalate) can be made from recycled plastic bottles using advanced recycling technologies, which results in the same tough material but with lower greenhouse gas emissions and energy use than plastic made from conventional sources.

Sustained Drug Delivery

Delivering medications when and where they’re needed can be a time-consuming, inefficient affair, involving multiple trips to doctors and hospitals. Implantable delivery systems are changing that. For example, pharmaceutical grade plastics (such as ethylene vinyl acetate) can be inserted into the body to deliver reliable, sustained release of medications to fight cancer, repair eye degeneration, neuro-degenerative disease and more. Helping improve patient outcomes and reduce waste.