Advancing Recycling Practices in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is facing a growing concern over the environmental impact of single-use plastics, with much of the waste ending up in landfills or incinerated. In a recent event at the[PACK]out, Alison Bryant, a senior consultant at Antea Group and communications director for the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC), highlighted the pressing issue at hand.

While acknowledging the vital role that plastic plays in modern healthcare by ensuring durability, sterility, quality, and safety for patients and healthcare workers, Bryant pointed out that global production of healthcare plastics exceeded 32 billion pounds in 2020 and is projected to rise to 48 billion pounds by 2025. Despite the recyclability of much of this material, the majority still contributes to the growing waste problem.

To address this issue, the HPRC is dedicated to enhancing the recyclability of plastic products and packaging in healthcare through various technical projects. Their collaborative approach involves members from across the value chain to identify and remove barriers at every stage, from raw material supply to disposal and recycling.

One key focus of the HPRC is advanced recycling, which aims to address the limitations of traditional mechanical recycling, especially with high-performance multi-laminate plastics common in healthcare packaging. By conducting extensive research and pilot projects, the HPRC has developed guiding principles for advanced recycling that prioritize reduced greenhouse gas emissions and material integrity.

Bryant emphasized the importance of substantiating claims about the benefits of advanced recycled plastics with scientific research and ensuring transparency and credibility. The HPRC’s ultimate goal is to create a more sustainable future for the healthcare industry by fostering collaboration and leveraging advanced recycling technologies.