Article | March 29, 2023

Improving Medical Device Sustainability

By Molly Wagle, DSM Biomedical


Some ways to improve a product’s sustainability profile are obvious, such as using renewable energy to manufacture the product or reducing waste. Embedding sustainability into the entire design takes a more methodical approach, which starts as early as possible in the project and begins broad and narrows as the project progresses. It is more difficult to incorporate sustainability later in development, after the design has been frozen, verified, and validated, and production processes qualified, unless one is changing the energy mix from fossil-based to renewable energy.

Biomaterial selection is an often-overlooked way to impact the sustainability of a device. For example, the type of biomaterial can have a significant impact on carbon footprint, recyclability, and circularity. Every device has different considerations, which is why DSM Biomedical has created its own design for sustainability guidance that draws ideas from several existing documents. This guidance helps DSM Biomedical’s partners create products sustainably, as well as keep up-to-date with such recommendations.

Resources tapped to create this comprehensive guide include the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) guidance on designing for recyclability in the healthcare industry and the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition Pathways Calculator (a publicly available tool indicating a product’s footprint across the entire health care pathway) in addition to numerous other guidance documents.

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