Solvay and Medacta Complete Study Comparing Single-Use and Reusable Surgical Instruments
Solvay Specialty Polymers, reported the results of a major study challenging perceptions that single-use medical instruments have a negative environmental impact vs. reusable instruments. Conducted in conjunction with Medacta International SA, Castel San Pietro, Switzerland, a manufacturer of orthopaedic implants, neurosurgical systems and instrumentation, and Swiss Climate AG, Bern, Switzerland, an independent sustainability consultant, the report signals a significant cradle-to-grave life cycle analysis to measure the environmental impact of high-performance polymers in healthcare applications.
Applying the ISO 14044 standard for life cycle analysis, the group focused its study on the cumulative environmental impact of a surgical instrument kit for knee replacement manufactured by Medacta. The kit is available with either all-metal reusable instruments (GMK) or with single-use instruments (GMK Efficiency) injection molded from several high-performance medical grade polymers from Solvay. The analysis encompassed the complete cradle-to-grave life cycle of both kit options, including their raw materials, production, use and disposal, as well as post-use management, reuse and recovery.
Overall, the life cycle analysis of Medacta’s surgery kit demonstrated that the carbon footprint of GMK Efficiency single-use instrumentation is neutral when compared to the average CO2 equivalent annual emission of a hospital using conventional metal re-usable instrumentation. These findings counter existing industry perceptions about the negative environmental impact of single-use instrumentation, and reinforce the viability of metal-to-plastic conversion for these applications. Further, the findings allowed Medacta to apply Swiss Climate’s respected CO2 Neutral stamp to its GMK Efficiency single-use surgical instrument kit for knee replacement.
Additional input from Swiss Climate found that GMK Efficiency single-use instrumentation eliminates the need for repeated washing and sterilization, which can save up to 115 gallons (435 liters) of water for each surgical knee procedure.
“Despite the debate over environmental impact, demand for single-use instruments is growing quickly due, in part, to their potential for reducing hospital acquired infections,” said Dane Waund, global healthcare market manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “To help customers more familiar with metal fabrication consider making this important transition, Solvay is committed to partnering with industry leaders like Medacta to evaluate the potential environmental impact of alternative solutions, and to usher in a new generation of safer and more innovative medical instrumentation.”
Solvay Specialty Polymers
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