Sustainable business practices allow companies to acknowledge and address environmental issues while also creating value, increasing revenue, and gaining cost savings. Environmentally aware organizations typically integrate a sustainability mindset into all of their activities, embedding it into their corporate strategy, purpose, and culture.
In the medtech industry, the sustainability conversation often begins with the problem of medical waste and the role of disposable plastic packaging to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers, as well as how to balance a sustainable approach with health and safety.
Many experts believe it is essential for medical device developers and manufacturers to embrace sustainability in order to ensure regulatory compliance and future profitability. “Sustainable medical devices are better for the environment and attractive to consumers and can provide cost savings, investor interest, and improved brand and competitive advantage,” notes a recent Medtech News article.
However, a sustainable approach to medical device production is not limited to discussions about disposable packaging and whether or not the device is recyclable. Instead, it means considering “how to reduce carbon emissions, energy and water use, and material waste across its entire lifespan, from design and material selection, to supply chain, to manufacturing and distribution,” said Medtech News.
The Lowest Possible Environmental Impact
Developers and manufacturers must consider all of these factors, as well as the safety and usability of the devices for patients and end users. They should “strive to achieve products with the lowest possible environmental impact throughout the product lifecycle without compromising performance, patient safety, functionality, aesthetics, quality, or cost,” notes the pharma industry news publisher On Drug Delivery.
According to these sources, an “eco-design” approach to device development and manufacturing could include:
- The use of eco-friendly device materials
- Designing “small” to minimize the use of unnecessary materials
- Designing to maximize use of existing technologies, such as wireless technology
- Manufacturing processes that minimize energy and water use
- Minimal packaging using recyclable or degradable materials
- Designing devices to ensure easy disassembly, facilitating reuse and recovery of device components at end of life
Medical device manufacturers and distributors, as well as healthcare companies, can also benefit the environment by finding a thoughtful and effective waste management partner. These partners will help ensure that discarded items are destroyed properly and in a sustainable manner, says Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI).
Sharing the Vision
According to MD+DI, the right waste management partner will:
- Have a shared sustainability vision with its customer
- Offer customized solutions for the customer’s needs
- Take a dedicated, personalized approach to recycling and beneficially reusing waste that would otherwise end up in landfills
- Offer enhanced data tracking and reporting of waste stream management and how efforts align with financial sustainability and corporate goals
The Dynamic Technology Solutions team heard plenty of buzz first hand this past year at industry events, including the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council conference and the Diversity Alliance for Science conference, about the need for businesses to adopt an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) perspective and how ESG is more important than ever. Medical device developers and manufacturers must embrace sustainability strategies and practices or else risk being left out of future business opportunities with companies that are prioritizing ESG.
Here’s another recent Dynamic Technology Solutions story on sustainability and ESG: