The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) has concluded work on a set of guidelines that offer useful product and packaging design considerations for improving the recyclability of disposable plastic products. The Design Guidelines for Optimal Hospital Plastics Recycling takes a look at product and packaging design features that inhibit post-use recycling potential and makes design recommendations that could enhance product recyclability.
Understanding that product recyclability fits into a broader context of product functionality requirements, hospital operations and economic viability, these guidelines identify and articulate desirable design practices and less desirable design practices. Examples of desirable design practices include eliminating multiple material types used within one discrete product, avoiding paper tapes or labels attached directly to products, allowing for post-use identification and removal of product residue and minimizing the use of pigments in products.
These guidelines were developed based on findings from a pilot study jointly conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, Engineered Plastics and Waste Management. This pilot study evaluated the recyclability and best practices of pre-patient operating room plastic waste. The resulting guidelines have a very specific application and are intended to supplement existing plastics packaging and sustainability efforts in healthcare.
HPRC intends to begin implementation of the guidelines within its member companies this year, as eight of its eleven current members have healthcare product design and manufacturing operations.