Belgium-headquartered Solvay Specialty Polymers has released the results of a study, conducted with medical apparatus manufacturer Medacta International, which evaluated the environmental impact of high-performance polymers in healthcare applications.
Looking at single-use medical instruments' environmental impact compared to the impact of re-usable medical instruments, the study concluded that single-use instruments were actually not any worse for the environment than their re-usable counterparts.
The group focused its study on the cumulative environmental impact of a surgical instrument kit for knee replacement manufactured by Medacta. The life cycle analysis (LCA) of Medacta's surgery kit showed that the carbon footprint of GMK Efficiency single-use instrumentation is neutral when compared to the average CO2 equivalent annual emission of a hospital using conventional metal re-usable instrumentation.
Bianca Shemper, sustainability manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers, said: “As industry-leading innovators and collaborators, both Solvay and Medacta have been at the forefront of the trend toward single-use medical instrumentation. Despite the tremendous promise of the single-use concept for reducing the frequency of hospital acquired infections, concerns over increased waste have led to the perception that single-use instrumentation is less environmentally friendly than traditional systems. With Medacta's help, we methodically explored those concerns to determine whether the alleged environmental impact of a single-use instrument kit outweighed its clear potential benefits.”
Dane Waund, global healthcare market manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers, said: “Despite the debate over environmental impact, demand for single-use instruments is growing quickly due, in part, to their potential for reducing hospital acquired infections. To help customers more familiar with metal fabrication consider making this important transition, Solvay is committed to partnering with industry leaders like Medacta to evaluate the potential environmental impact of alternative solutions, and to usher in a new generation of safer and more innovative medical instrumentation.”
The study has allowed Medacta to apply the Swiss Climate CO2 Neutral stamp to its GMK Efficiency single-use surgical instrument kit for knee replacement. The Swiss Climate company, which advises companies in setting up climate strategies, says that GMK Efficiency single-use instrumentation eliminates the need for repeated washing and sterilisation, which can save up to 435 litres of water for each surgical knee procedure.