Design Out the Waste, Before It’s Created


In the medical packaging industry, sustainability is a constant conversation. The reality is patient safety must always come first, and in some cases that means sustainability must take a back seat. But change starts with end-user demand. This is true even in the healthcare packaging industry. When it comes to more sustainable practices, we are reliant on consumers to push for change. It’s the nurses, doctors, and healthcare staff that see the amount of waste packaging creates daily.

This year’s Earth Day theme, Planet vs. Plastics, is calling for action by asking consumers to demand a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. The reduction of plastics is a hard conversation to have in our industry. Plastics are prevalent because they have been proven to serve an important purpose—providing a protective barrier for medical devices and therapies. The good news is that the healthcare packaging industry is talking and actively looking for ways, as an industry, to incorporate more sustainable practices.

planet vs plastics

So, in an industry that must prioritize patient safety, that uses plastic as a source of protection, is facing pressure from end-users, and wanting to be a good environmental partner, what changes can be made now to have a positive impact on plastic usage? How can we do better?

There isn’t a one size fits all answer. In many cases, the industry will need to take various approaches to truly make a change. But, when it comes to packaging, we believe there is something you can do right now—it starts with designing out the waste before it’s created. That means from the very beginning of a new product development, looking at the materials you’re sourcing, the packaging footprint, and reviewing the design carefully to ensure you aren’t over designing. Taking these simple steps can make a big difference. Check out this infographic with Medtronic to see how a 33% reduction in material usage added up to a significant impact.

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