Sustainability in Medical Manufacturing

Sponsored: Ansell; September 2023- The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

Medical manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers all impact the natural environment as a result of their operations. Sustainable practices within the medical industry not only protect the environment, but also keep companies in step with their competitors. Healthcare industry leaders are increasingly evaluating their companies’ environmental impact and making the necessary business adjustments to effectively implement sustainable change.

In a recent podcast, Artha Salgado, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Ansell, discussed how stakeholders can ignite a mindset of change in the medical industry toward a sustainable future.

Ansell is a global safety solutions organization that specializes in personal protective equipment for the healthcare industry. Ansell prioritizes environmental sustainability and strives to integrate environmentally beneficial practices throughout company operations. The manufacturer also focuses sustainability initiatives on overall energy and emissions, water stewardship, zero waste in manufacturing facilities, biodiversity impacts, and sustainable packaging, with a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and source 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2040.

Waste Reduction

Waste produced as a result of medical industry operations have a substantial impact on the environment. Implementing waste reduction tactics within the industry starts at the source. Employees at Ansell are engaged in a culture and mindset of sustainability throughout all steps of the manufacturing process. Ansell aims to reduce paper and plastic packaging, ensure that all paper-based packaging is made with recycled content, and make 100% of packaging material recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2026.

“We focus quite significantly on segregation and source for waste reduction. We try to minimize the material that is being used, thereby also minimizing shipping volumes. We make sure that more packaging material or more product is going into containers. When the packaging comes to our end users or our customers, we make sure that we are giving them the most sustainable packaging options available to optimize their utilization,” said Salgado.

Sustainable Surgical Materials

Surgical material manufacturing can be more sustainable through a focus on minimizing material used, decreasing shipping volumes, and using recycled packaging options. Also, if a company prioritizes sustainability initiatives on an overall scale, such as through efficient energy use, waste reduction, and sustainable packaging, then in turn, all individual medical products are manufactured with a sustainability focus.

“If we were to shift all our electricity to renewables in one of our manufacturing facilities, the environmental impact of the product that is manufactured in that facility becomes small automatically. And it’s not just one product line, it’s everything that is manufactured there,” said Salgado.

The healthcare industry has become increasingly interdependent and connected. Ansell’s sustainability efforts have resounding impacts throughout the med-surg industry, and their partners have also begun reporting and disclosing encouraging emissions, water, and waste reduction efforts.

“As an organization, we can directly influence what happens during the manufacturing phase, then we can influence what happens upstream in terms of the raw materials, and then we can engage with customers and end users when it comes to an end-of-life part of the process. Ansell applies these environmental commitments to all our manufacturing sites, irrespective of whether it is surgical, industrial or life sciences,” said Salgado.

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