Medical device maker Becton, Dickinson and Co. is studying the feasibility of recycling syringes discarded by health care facilities and using the material to make new products. The project is an extension of a 10-year-old partnership with Casella Waste Systems Inc. that has expanded over time to recycle 100 percent of BD's nonsalable syringes.
Casella currently recycles plastics, glass and metal scrap from more than 30 BD locations.
"The partnership is a natural fit as Casella actively manages society's material streams — including medical waste — and offers sustainable services to help customers meet their environmental goals," said Jeff Weld, director of communications at Casella.
The companies have worked together to optimize the value of scrap from BD's manufacturing sites. BD says it now recycles 100 percent of the scrap from its U.S. syringe manufacturing operations.
"Essentially, we are landfill-free. This is a testament to our commitment to creating meaningful, measurable progress in climate change and product impact, which are two focus areas within BD's environmental, social and governance strategy," said Chee Lum, vice president and general manager of injection systems at BD.
Casella helped BD to segregate recyclable scrap by using color, pictures and signage to categorize materials.
"Now that BD has achieved 100 percent recycling with our syringe manufacturing operations under our direct control, we are collaborating with our customers to help them reduce or recycle their waste," Lum said. "We have pilot programs inside and outside of the U.S. to innovate new methods and processes to do just that."
BD has created a Sustainable Medical Technology Institute, which employs researchers and engineers focused on reducing the environmental impact of the company's products. This includes product design and material selection.
Recycling syringes from health care facilities can be more difficult due to the potential presence of contamination or biohazardous materials.
"As leaders in our respective fields, BD and Casella are committed to helping build systems that enable short- and long-term value and sustainability because we know this work can make a lasting, positive impact," Chum said.
Syringes will be collected, treated and sterilized before they are recycled.
BD is evaluating both mechanical and chemical recycling options as a part of the pilot program. The initial results are expected in the first half of 2023.