PPE-mSUP Project

Project Objective

A newly launched project, of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care (Coalition),  Reducing Health Care-Related PPE and Medical Single Use Plastic Waste Through Circular Economy Principles, will demonstrate that hospital-generated PPE and mSUP materials can be successfully managed by applying the principles of a circular economy: reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible before the materials are disposed of. The project will demonstrate that waste PPE can be collected, stored and transported to a designated recycling facility operated by an industry partner. In addition, PPE and selected mSUPs reuse and reduction opportunities will be identified which will complement and further enable resource conservation.

This project helps address several Government of Canada initiatives such as the following:

  • In November 2018, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment adopted Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Strategy to reduce the environmental impact of plastics and promote a circular economy [1].
  • Canada supports the premise that the world needs a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and will be joining the Finnish and the Netherlands to host three high-level events to address the important role circularity plays in the economies of the future as well as in the fight against climate change and the nature crisis [2].
  • To reduce the environmental impact of PPE in Canada, the Government of Canada is supporting the development of solutions that will lead to more sustainable PPE, including reusability, alternative materials, improved recyclability, novel recycling technologies and compostability [3].
  • The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act delivers on the Government of Canada’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Act will establish a legally binding process to set five-year national emissions-reduction targets for 2030, 2035, 2040, and 2045, as well as develop credible, science-based emissions-reduction plans to achieve each target. [4].
  • The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is Canada's plan – developed with the provinces and territories and in consultation with Indigenous peoples – to meet Canada's emissions reduction targets, grow the economy, and build resilience to a changing climate. [5]

Linear Economy vs. Circular Economy

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

Project Components

  1. Engaging health sector and stakeholder experts on PPE and medical SUPs reuse and recycling
  2. Determining PPE and medical SUPs purchased in hospitals and opportunities for reduction, reuse and recycling
  3. Designing the scenarios for the demonstration sites to collect and recycle PPE
  4. Testing the prototype design at the demonstration site
  5. Knowledge generation and translation deliverables will be provided in English and French and will be designed to enable the hospital sector across Canada to develop their own PPE/SUPs collection and recycling programs following the completion of this project.

Webinars & Events

Webinar 1: What to do with hospital PPE and medical single-use plastic waste?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

9 am PDT/ 12 pm EDT/ 1 pm ADT

Watch recording here

CCGHC Team and Associates

Neil Ritchie

Executive Lead

Linda Varangu

 Project Advisor

Kent Waddington

 Communications Advisor

Kady Cowan

 Project Technical Lead

Ozora Amin

 Project Coordinator

Krishna Akella

 Project Business Manager

 Spiro Tsolakis

 Project Research

Kathleen Wilkinson

 Administrative Support

Steering Committee

Kady Cowan

Project Technical Lead

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Linda Varangu

Project Advisor

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Fiona Miller

 Professor of Health Policy

University of Toronto

Marianne Dawson

 Sustainability Consultant - Recycling and Waste Reduction

British Columbia GreenCare

Ozora Amin

Project Coordinator

Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care

Edward Rubinstein

Director, Environmental Compliance, Energy & Sustainability

University Health Network

Project Partners

University Health Network (UHN)  |  University of Toronto  |  BC GreenCare

External Evaluator

Cameron D. Norman

Principal & President

Cense Ltd.

Project Funder