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Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council begins pilot study

By: Mike Verespej

August 17, 2012

PALO ALTO, CALIF. (Aug. 17, 11:20 a.m. ET) — The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council will do a six-month pilot study to gain a better understanding of the amount and types of plastic waste generated within healthcare facilities.

HPRC said the study, which is funded by Stanford University Medical Center, will collect and analyze data related to the types, sources and volumes of pre-patient plastic waste at Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto, Calif.

The pilot study will include four main areas: surgical services, interventional services including catheterization and angiography labs, pre and post-anesthesia care settings, and pharmacies.

This is the second major initiative from HRPC, which in November issued Design for Recycling guidelines for hospital plastics.

“The information captured from this study will provide valuable insight into the barriers and challenges of recycling mixed plastics in hospitals,” said HPRC director Tod Christenson, in an Aug. 16 news release.

He said the data will give HHPRC the opportunity to “contribute meaningful fact and experience-based guidance on plastics recycling to other healthcare facilities.”

“This pilot work is momentous as we work towards our mission of ... enabling sustainable, cost-effective recycling solutions for plastic products used in the delivery of healthcare,” Christenson said.

The recycling guidelines issued in November suggested product and packaging design considerations for disposable plastic products. The guidelines also pointed out features that inhibit recycling.

For example, the guides suggested that companies eliminate multiple material types within one discrete product, avoid paper tapes or labels attached directly to products, minimize the use of pigments and make changes that help in the post-use identification and removal of product residue.

The recycling guidelines were developed after a pilot study that was jointly conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, Engineered Plastics, and Waste Management.

HPRC is a coalition of industry peers across the healthcare, recycling and waste management industries that is working to improve recyclability of plastic products. Its 13 members include Baxter, Becton Dickinson, Cardinal Health, Covidien, DuPont, Eastman Chemical Co., Engineered Plastics, Hospira, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly Clark, Philips, Sabic and Waste Management.

More than two-thirds of its member companies have healthcare product design and manufacturing operations.