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). [6]

PPE Circular Economy
Redesign Take Make Waste 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

Take

The first step in the linear economy involves the process of extracting raw materials required for the manufacture of products. This is typically done on an ongoing basis at an increasing rate due to the lack of used materials in the system and ever-increasing demand for various products.

Make

This component focuses primarily on efficient and cost-effective manufacturing of products, which can then be distributed for consumption. All materials used are typically harvested from natural reserves or manufactured from similar materials. There is not re-usage of previously used materials here.

Waste

This is the last component of the linear economy, and indicates the end of the product lifecycle. At this point, products are discarded where they stagnate in landfills and damage the surrounding natural environment.

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

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.

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