PackTalk is a blog for the Healthcare Packaging Industry

Advanced Recycling Conversations Start Here

Published on March 28, 2022

Increasing sustainability throughout medical product development and packaging processes can feel like attempting to climb Mt. Everest in a pair of sneakers. Our industry is dominated by “one-of-a-kinds.” Our material requirements are demanding, often unusual, and stringent. Our end users are patients, thus safety and sterility are the highest priority. These facts rule out many renewables emerging for other consumer product producers.  

Medical and pharma cannot do business, at least today, without plastics. And virgin plastics, completely dependent on fossil fuels to exist, are a conundrum of their own. Still, plastics often win for the lowest carbon footprint. The environmental impact of all plastics, however, cannot be ignored. Even when recycling healthcare plastic waste remains extremely challenging, we must keep exploring and climbing—until we reach the summit.  

Those truths and aspirations make the recent Advanced Recycling Pilot Project White Paper from the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council a worthy read. Analyzing everything from the plastics market and dynamics to advanced recycling technology and specific healthcare plastic packaging, it reminds us that as long as innovation perseveres, progress is possible.  

Written for hospitals, medical manufacturing, and advanced recycling companies this guide brings together representatives and presents initiatives that can help us realize our goals.   

Key takeaways: 

  • For hospitals – because 90% of healthcare plastics can be processed using two or more advanced recycling technologies, the need for sorting may be minimal. 

  • For medical product manufacturers – “Designing for recyclability” will improve the healthcare industry’s ability to provide recyclable plastic feedstock – growing market demand and help control cost increases. Recyclability of products and packaging should be considered from the standpoint of both mechanical and advanced recycling prosses. 

  • For advanced recyclers – a typical mixed stream of healthcare plastic packaging materials is an acceptable feedstock for many advanced recycling technologies. 

 Thank you, HPRC, for advancing insights around healthcare plastic recycling that we are collectively committed to achieving for a sustainable future 

PHOTO CREDIT: American Chemistry Council

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