What Could Sustainability Movements Mean For Medical Packaging?

Sustainability in Medical Packaging

As maintaining a sterile barrier is the most essential task in sterile packaging, a recent push towards sustainable packaging has called for a new shift in the medical packaging. With costs of oil on the rise, it logically follows the resin costs will increase with it.

Sustainable packaging is not only environmentally friendly, but it can also prove as a financially viable option for companies who are looking to cut costs. It can reduce weight and waste and materials used in the packaging process. The annual waste from our nation’s hospitals amount up to 6600 tons per day, a percentage of that being hazardous material. An efficient way to reduce this is through simply reducing the amount of material that goes into packaging our products.

Companies such as Tyvek have caught onto this trend as well, releasing an article informing customers of the ways in which they are sustainable as a company. Among other things, they discuss material use, recycling, and disposal of materials. You can read it here. 

In response to the ongoing environmental movement among such businesses, organizations such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) have attempted to give a definition of sustainable packaging.

  • Is beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle.
  • Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  • Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  • Is made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios.
  • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  • Is effectively recovered and utilized in a biological and/or industrial cradle-to-cradle cycles.

If you would like to read about these in more depth, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition provides a summary.

However, manufacturers need to remember that their product range can limit their packaging options. In the medical device industry, “recycled content use is limited” says Anne Johnson, director of SPC. She suggests that while medical device and pharmaceutical companies are limited in their options on the front end of the life cycle, “… companies may want to consider what they can do on the back end by looking at the life cycle of packaging.”

If you are limited to in your options for ISO 11607:2006 primary packaging standards, go ahead and look for sustainable secondary and tertiary designs that can possibly cut costs.

As you continue to develop packaging designs and want to keep up in market trends, sustainable packaging designs might be a good option for you.

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