The purpose of the project will be to demonstrate that hospital-generated PPE and medical single-use plastic (SUP) materials can be successfully collected, stored and transported to a designated recycling facility. This project will also provide an overview of PPE and selected SUPs reuse and reduction opportunities which will complement and further enable resource conservation and keep these materials from ending up as waste.
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).
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
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 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 drives production and distribution. Therefore, a reduction in consumption of new products is of paramount importance to drive the re-usage of PPE.
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
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
- Engaging health sector and stakeholder experts on PPE and medical SUPs reuse and recycling
- Determining PPE and medical SUPs purchased in hospitals and opportunities for reduction, reuse and recycling
- Designing the scenarios for the demonstration sites to collect and recycle PPE
- Testing the prototype design at the demonstration site
- 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.
CCGHC Team and Associates
Project Technical Lead
Project Business Manager
This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada.
Ce projet a été réalisé avec l'appui financier du governement du Canada.