META: Is reusable equipment the best solution in the medical industry? And if not, what are some suitable alternatives?
The medical industry is constantly advancing with new and innovative devices and equipment being developed all the time. Keeping in mind the environmental benefits, reusable equipment may seem like the best solution for the future of healthcare. But is that a realistic expectation as of now?
While it may not be a realistic expectation at this point, the medical industry is continuing to develop new and innovative ways to make sure our equipment is as reusable as possible.
Cons Of Using Plastic
The obvious con of using plastic is that it is not environmentally friendly. Non-recyclable plastic can take up to 1000 years to decompose.
Health Without Harm, a non-profit organization determined to drive justice in the healthcare sector, has reported that according to their estimate, the healthcare sector has been shown to contribute around four percent of emissions worldwide. The problem in the medical industry specifically is that it would be challenging to clean medical equipment to then recycle it. That makes recycling in healthcare limited. Understandably, this makes plastic waste a big issue, as medical professionals need to use disposable equipment all the time….
Technology is being used to develop eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. Some examples have been biodegradable personal protective equipment such as gloves.
Pros of Using Plastic
Plastics in the medical sector have pros, such as their ease of processing and sterilization. Its low costs make it an easily accessible resource. As of the moment, plastics are simply the easiest, and most hygienic solution.
There are legitimate concerns that using reusable equipment can lead to spreading of diseases. With that in mind, it is currently highly unlikely that all medical equipment and devices will ever be 100 percent reusable.
For example, single-use needles and syringes are a necessity in the medical industry as they reduce the risk of infection.
It is important to consider that even if some equipment can be reused, the process of sterilising them in between patients can be costly and time-consuming. That is not an issue when using disposable medical grade plastic equipment. This factor must be taken into consideration when discussing the pros and cons of using plastic in healthcare
The best solution as of now may be to find a balance between using disposable and reusable equipment. As technology develops in the future, this may become easier to do.
As mentioned above, some equipment such as PPE equipment is becoming available in the biodegradable form, being more environmentally friendly.
Another example of medical equipment that has been designed to be more environmentally friendly are the Galaxy Il surgery retractors. The purpose of surgical retractors is to open a wound and keep it open during surgery. The single-use frames of the Galaxy Il retractor use less plastic, which is recyclable, making for a sustainable approach to a staple tool in surgery. Innovations like these are driving progress in the medical sector and will hopefully push more environmentally friendly products into the market.