HPRC Plastics Recycling Round Table Round Up

HPRC Plastics Recycling Round Table Round Up

On May 21, 2024, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) hosted a round table discussion on plastics recycling in conjunction with the CleanMed conference in Salt Lake City. The session was attended by about 35 representatives from various stakeholders in the healthcare plastics value chain, including hospitals, suppliers, recyclers, and nonprofit organizations.

The event was structured to provide education, inspiration, and a realistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities in healthcare plastics recycling. Key components of the event included:

    • Overview of Advanced Recycling Technologies: This segment aimed to help stakeholders understand the complex processes involved in advanced recycling and their role in supporting a circular plastics supply chain for the healthcare industry. It also emphasized the importance of reducing plastic use and prioritizing mechanical recycling wherever possible.
    • Case Studies: Multiple hospitals presented their experiences in developing recycling programs for clinical plastics. These case studies highlighted the challenges faced, the solutions implemented, and the barriers that remain.
    • Breakout Group Discussions: Participants engaged in discussions to share insights and perspectives on the aspirations and realities of recycling clinical plastics. These discussions gathered diverse viewpoints from different stakeholders along the value chain.

From the discussions at the HPRC round table and the CleanMed event, it became evident that healthcare practitioners are increasingly concerned about the rising amount of plastics used in healthcare. Key issues highlighted include the potential health impacts on vulnerable patients and the general public due to increased plastic exposure, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, and the significant amount of waste generated.

HPRC is dedicated to enhancing the recycling of clinical plastics through industry collaboration. A crucial aspect of this effort is bringing together members from across the value chain to share experiences, discuss challenges and trends, and work towards viable solutions – such as this roundtable discussion at CleanMed. The breakout group discussions revealed several important themes:

    • Challenges and Possibilities: Recycling clinical plastics is difficult but achievable. Successful programs are typically rooted in a strong culture of quality, including comprehensive training, monitoring, auditing, and reporting.
    • Leadership and Passion: Support from organizational leadership is vital, as is having clinical staff who are passionate about sustainability.
    • Cost Challenges: The costs associated with plastic recycling programs often require subsidies from savings in other sustainability initiatives, such as energy efficiency projects.
    • Collaboration: Due to the fragmentation of the plastics recycling industry, collaborating with local hospitals, suppliers, and recycling partners with similar goals is essential for success.
    • Recycling Priorities: While mechanical recycling should be prioritized, advanced recycling technologies offer an alternative for plastics that cannot be processed through traditional mechanical recycling methods.

The HPRC round table discussion at the CleanMed conference highlighted the critical importance of addressing plastics use and recycling within the healthcare industry. Through collaborative efforts, education, and innovative solutions, stakeholders are making strides towards creating a sustainable, circular plastics supply chain. The insights and experiences shared during this event underscore the challenges and opportunities ahead, emphasizing the need for continued leadership, passion, and collaboration. As awareness grows and initiatives advance, the healthcare sector can make significant progress in reducing plastic waste and its associated impacts.

Visit our website to learn how you can get involved in these efforts.

HPRC is a private, technical consortium of industry peers across the manufacturing, healthcare, and recycling industries. Founded in 2010 and comprising globally recognized members, HPRC engages in pioneering projects to improve the recyclability of plastic products and packaging within healthcare settings.