Sustainability in the MedTech World
The realm of sustainability in the MedTech world extends beyond simple recycling practices. It encompasses environmental, social, and economic considerations, as well as the complexity of healthcare systems. Unfortunately, the term sustainability is often misused for greenwashing and product marketing purposes. However, sustainability is a mindset that integrates eco-design principles to create products with smaller footprints, ultimately ensuring a healthier planet for life on Earth.
To truly achieve sustainability, all stakeholders must play their part.
It requires reevaluating product life cycles and engineering processes from the outset. By incorporating eco-design principles into all aspects of our operations, we can achieve genuine sustainability engineering.
Circular product and material lifecycle
The primary objective of eco-design is to reduce adverse environmental impacts throughout the entire product life cycle while maintaining performance, functionality, quality, and safety. However, the full potential of eco-design can only be realized when aligned with circular economy concepts and a holistic view of a product’s life cycle, including raw material generation, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end-of-life solutions.
But how to achieve?
In the MedTech context, where safety considerations often take precedence over sustainability, it is crucial not to focus solely on one aspect of eco-design. While addressing waste reduction, which can be challenging for single-use products, it is essential to also consider sustainable supply chains, compliance with environmental, social, and governance criteria, and strategies for extending the lifetime of devices.
Get prepared: know the figures and prioritize actions.
In 2023, having a sustainability vision in the MedTech and pharmaceutical industries is increasingly critical. Organizations like the National Health Service (NHS) England have made significant commitments to sustainability, aiming for ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2040 through initiatives such as the Greener NHS Initiative.
And if we think about costs?
Despite the potential costs associated with sustainability efforts, there are compelling reasons why sustainability momentum continues to grow. External pressures are increasing, sustainability-related business opportunities are emerging, and ethical and regulatory factors play a role. Companies that are early adopters of sustainability strategies can gain a competitive advantage and enhance their reputation, which is crucial in attracting employees and customers. Moreover, cost savings can be achieved through recycling and reprocessing of goods.
Ultimately, embracing sustainability in the MedTech sector contributes to improving public health, reducing environmental impact, and driving innovation. It is a holistic approach that benefits both society and the industry itself.
Anja Fürbach, Market Intelligence Senior Expert