PPE Circular Economy

A linear economy holds no sustainable value for health care. Health care’s participation in a circular economy (CE), however, would provide a major opportunity to yield direct benefits to the sustainability and efficiency of the delivery of health care services and indirect benefits from reducing harmful environmental impacts of hospital-generated waste (WHO, 2018).

PPE Circular Economy
Redesign Production Distribution Consumption Reuse/Share/Repair Recycle

Redesign

Redesigning PPE is key to prolonging the lifecycle, thereby optimizing the product and enabling product circularity. Listed below are some key points to consider:

- Optimize products through a redesign, enabling product circularity

- Use high-quality materials to enable reuse

- Use recycled material in the redesign of products

Production

The circular economy encourages the development of a resilient and strategic supply chain, that can aid in manufacturing durable and innovative  PPE and mSUP products.

Distribution

Distribution plays a key role in the availability of PPE and mSUPs in the market. The following examples demonstrate how health care facilities can work with suppliers to encourage a CE approach:

- Opportunity to Work with Local Suppliers

- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

- Sharing Platforms

- Product as a Service

- Adopting a Performance Model in Procurement

- Purchasing Policies

Consumption

Consumption drives production and distribution. Therefore, a reduction in consumption of new products is of paramount importance to drive the re-usage of PPE.

Reuse/Share/Repair

Carrying over from the design component, reusability and repairability of PPE can play a key role in prolonging the product lifecycle. Listed below are some aspects to consider:

- Products that can be reused more than one time through cleaning and sterilization techniques

- Substituting cleaning agents which can be generated onsite (aqueous ozone), decreasing the need to continually buy new products

- Ultra-violate disinfection versus toxic chemical usage

- Establishment of online asset sharing platforms between hospitals or health authorities

- Create local supply chains

- Design equipment to be easily reparable

Recycle

Recycling is the next step in the circular economy after reusing/repairing. It is important to note that recycling is not the "go-to" solution in a circular economy as the focus is more on prolonging product lifecycle through reuse, repair and reprocessing.  Listed below are some of the things to keep in mind before recycling PPE:

- Ensure highly efficient sorting and recycling system are in place

- Only recycle products at the end of their life cycle

- Recycle products that cannot be reused due to outstanding circumstances