Investigating Wasted Opportunities in Medical Plastics Recycling

As it prepares a report on the recently completed study on mechanical recycling of flexible medical packaging, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council launches a new study on chemical recycling.

U.S healthcare facilities generate approximately 14,000 tons of waste per day, and it’s estimated that as much as one-quarter of that waste is composed of plastic packaging and products. And here’s the kicker: 85% of that hospital waste has not come in contact with a patient and is, in that respect, non-hazardous. Those statistics were compiled by the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC), an organization dedicated to improving the recyclability of plastic products and packaging within the healthcare space. Nick Packet, a packaging engineer at DuPont, which is a member of the HPRC, participated in a panel discussion on sustainability at last week’s Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West event in Anaheim, CA. At that time, he provided an update on HPRC’s activities.

Founded in 2010, the HPRC describes itself as a “private, technical consortium of industry peers across the healthcare, recycling, and waste management industries.” Its members include a who’s who of the medical device industry: BD, Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and more. Several leading healthcare organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente and Ascension Health, sit on its advisory board. Its mission is simple: To collaborate across the value chain to implement cost-effective, viable ways of recycling these high-value materials, as Packet put it at the conference.

The St. Paul, MN–based HPRC has just completed a flexible packaging recycling study and is in the process of preparing its report, Packet told conference attendees, but he did share some observations prior to its publication.


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February 20, 2020