A Growing Body of Evidence Supports Reprocessing

As hospital supply chain purchasers look for sustainable solutions, they should make decisions based on published scientific data, comparing all major environmental impacts of product options so that counterproductive decisions aren’t made.

Until 2021, no one had examined the environmental impact of using reprocessed devices as compared to non-reprocessed or “virgin” devices. But researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute did just that in a 2021 life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a reprocessed electrophysiology (EP) catheter.

Examining various public health and environmental “impact categories,” the LCA confirmed what those in the reprocessing industry have known intuitively: in critical ways, reprocessing produces far less environmental and public health damage than virgin production.

As the financial, logistical, and environmental benefits of reprocessing are becoming more obvious, researchers are becoming more interested in verifying those benefits by examining the impacts of reprocessed devices more closely, and comparing them to virgin production. More LCAs are on the way. Environmental researchers hope they will confirm what the first LCA on EP catheters found.

The chart below shows a selection of results from the Fraunhofer Institute’s research
reduction in climate change-related greenhouse gas emissions through reprocessing.
0 %
reduction in ozone-depleting emissions through reprocessing.
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reduction in carcinogenic pollution through reprocessing.

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