Medical Technology

Circular solutions for medical waste in clinics and care facilities

According to research by the NGO Healthcare Without Harm (HCWH), 4.4% of global climate-relevant emissions are caused by the healthcare sector. In addition to the primary energy required to operate clinics and care facilities, these also result from the production, use, cleaning and recycling of consumables and medical devices. Accordingly, both product manufacturers and medical facilities and their utilities can contribute to greater sustainability in the healthcare sector by reducing the waste generated. Societal pressure and the ultimately resulting stricter legal requirements for effective circular economy concepts pose new challenges for the healthcare sector.

Previous activities to improve sustainability in hospitals focused on the proportionately "large" segments of energy and water management. Material recycling of the special waste fractions generated in the medical context plays no or only a subordinate role - especially for hygienic reasons.

The joint medical technology projects of Fraunhofer IWKS and IRED - Institute for Ecology, Recycling & Design pursue the goal of developing sustainable solutions for the return, recovery and recycling of single-use medical instruments, high-quality packaging and other clinical waste from clinics and care facilities with high resource potential.  

Current collaborative projects in medical technology



Collection and recycling of high-quality packaging materials



Development of a take-back strategy for single-material products made of e.g. stainless steel or plastics



Recycling garbage can for clinical waste with resource potential