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The increasing number of disposable medical devices is a cause for concern: GlobalData

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In a recent GlobalData poll assessing the sustainability of an increasing number of disposable devices within the medical device industry, 50% of participants reported their concern and believed disposable devices to not be sustainable

The impact of medical waste resulting from single-use disposable medical devices is concerning. Worldwide over 200 billion personal protective equipment (PPE) were used in hospitals in 2020, according to GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company suggests that reducing waste continues to be an important objective for medical device companies. However, with COVID-19 leading to an increased use of disposable devices such as PPE, medical device companies may struggle to fulfil their sustainability objectives.

In a recent GlobalData poll assessing the sustainability of an increasing number of disposable devices within the medical device industry, 50% of participants reported their concern and believed disposable devices to not be sustainable. On the other hand, 32% of participants were somewhat concerned and believed that companies need a balance between reducing the volume of disposable components and maintaining safety standards.

Aliyah Farouk, Senior Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData comments, “Maintaining safety standards is an integral part of the healthcare environment as disposable devices limit contamination and infection. However, companies should explore sustainable manufacturing processes, such as the use of 3D printing and redesigning products, to reduce the amount of plastic in packaging and increasing recycling.”

Due to stringent regulations, some devices will continue to have disposable components. Additionally, reusable devices may actually be unsustainable in some cases as the high levels of energy required for sterilization can result in a higher carbon footprint. Maintaining reusable devices is also costly, therefore medical device companies may be deterred from investing in them.

Farouk adds, “When it comes to sustainability, it is a matter of now or never for medical device companies. Conversations around sustainability are becoming more significant and companies that manufacture disposables are in the spotlight. There needs to be a balance between creating products that do not compromise safety needs, but also meet sustainability standards.”

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