Operation Green

by Todd McDonald on January 8, 2013

As one of the most vital areas of any hospital, operating rooms can generate as much as 40% of a hospital’s revenue.

They can also produce as much as 30% of a hospital’s waste volume – consume half of its supplies budget – and consume the majority of a hospital’s of water and electricity.

The need for innovative, sustainable solutions in the OR is clear, and hospitals are beginning to take notice.

Take, for example, Stanford University Medical Center, recently lauded for its green efforts and recognized as a leader in environmentally responsible operations by Practice Greenhealth, a non-profit organization focused on healthcare sustainability who named Stanford a Partner for Change with Distinction.

Precisely how did this medical facility earn such recogition? As you can see on Stanford’s The Operating Room Is Going Green video, their sustainability efforts in the OR are many, and include steps such as:

  • Buying more environmentally friendly products
  • Eliminating products with a high environmental impact
  • Eliminating supplies that weren’t needed
  • Reducing “disposable” and increasing “reusable”
  • Beginning to use Green Seal™ certified chemicals
  • Switching to PVC and DEHP free products
  • Buying Energy Star qualified equipment
  • Switching to mercury free blood pressure devices
  • Purchasing EP registered computer monitors
  • Adopting electronic records
  • Recycling single use devices and pre-case packaging
  • And more

But, because the task of improving the recylability of plastic products within healthcare is such an enormous one – in order to achieve it, in addition to hospitals, medical device manufacturers also have to play a critical role. That’s why at TEQ, as a medical device and packaging manufacturer, we are doing our part to contribute to the massive waste produced in the OR.

For example, knowing that sterile barrier systems most often consist of more than one material, which forces operating room professionals to take an extra step (one they often don’t have time for) to recycle the products we make, we created TEQethylene™. This mono-polymer sterile barrier system utilizes a new, proprietary blend of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) in combination with adhesive coated TYVEK®,  a breathable HDPE lidding material developed by Dupont™ making it more easily recycled.

And we didn’t stop at creating a single material system. Because changing sterile barrier system materials often necessitates the execution of costly and time consuming stability studies to meet ISO 11607 requirements, we decided to enlist the support of our partners Curt Larsen and John Spitzley, principals at Spartan Design Group, to provide our medical device customers with the stability data and laboratory documents they need to meet these requirements and justify new packaging designs.

What about you? Does your business or industry have an innovative solution to help “Operation Green”?

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