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PVC group joins Swedish project to help increase recycling of medical plastic waste

A Swedish waste management project is hoping to establish a sustainable management system for medical plastic waste through close collaboration between various stakeholders and field projects.The healthcare industry generates quite a lot of plastic waste, according to a news release. More than 40% of all plastic-based disposables medical devices are made from PVC. The aim of the project is to investigate how this fraction of medical waste can best be recycled.

PlasticsToday Staff

July 24, 2013

2 Min Read
PVC group joins Swedish project to help increase recycling of medical plastic waste

The PVCMed Alliance, a group representing the PVC medical industry chain, has joined the Swedish Environmental Institute, Swedish Regional and County Councils, waste companies, research institutes and chemical companies to set up a sustainable management system of this particular type of plastic waste.

All parties involved will work closely to develop a "roadmap" for increased recycling of plastics from healthcare. This includes identifying products and packaging that can already be easily sorted and recycled with high quality, but also investigate how to further develop plastic recycling systems in order to make it more efficient and relevant. Additionally, several case studies will be conducted within, amongst others, the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, the Karolinska University Hospital and Södersjukhuset in Stockholm.

"A major challenge is to develop the waste separation system in order to increase plastics recycling without disrupting the hospitals' daily work," said Kristian Hemström, project leader at the Stockholm County Council. "The recycling of medical plastics must be done in a way that does not increase hygienic risks."

The healthcare sector has made big strides in medical waste management. The challenge today is to increase the quality of the sorting of the waste that can be used for recycling. A large part of the technical work will be to develop pre-treatment methods in order to increase the rate of recycling and to find applications for the recycled plastic while ensuring safety and quality.

"In 2012, about 70 tons of plastic packaging was separated in our hospitals," said Jens Strömberg, environmental strategist at the Västra Göteland Regional Council "Our hope is that the project will enable us to better evaluate the quality and therefore the possibilities of the economic benefits of recycling. We also believe that there is a great potential in increasing the separation of medical plastic waste that is used nowadays for energy recovery."

The project "Sustainable Handling of Plastic Waste from Healthcare" is financed by Vinnova, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems and is headed by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute together with the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Chalmers University of Technology. Other financial supporters and participants are SWEREC, IKEM Innovations and Chemicals Industries of Sweden, INEOS, Business Region, Renova, Västra Götaland Regional Council, Stockholm County Council and The PVCMed Alliance. This project is running until January 2014.

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