Recently, Design Development Engineer, Will, Discussed the sustainability shift in Medical Device Development. Whether it be within or, outside of the medical device sector, sustainability isn’t new news.
With an initiative to continue enhancing our approach to circular and regenerative solutions at HD, the team have been undergoing various training and have built a network of expert consultants in the field. This has allowed us to enhance our service offering to include specific services in the area such as Design for the Circular Economy and product sustainability reports.
1. What have been the main challenges with designing the packaging for this project?
It was fairly easy to opt for sustainable packing to ship the devices as there is now such a variety of sustainable alternatives readily available in all shapes and sizes. It’s great to see that sustainable options are so readily available, and at a good price in comparison to more conventional plastic packaging alternatives (non-healthcare specific).
2. What solutions have you tried & why?
We researched sustainable alternatives to plastic bubble wrap, of which there is a lot of choice. Plastic bubble wrap would have been the first choice of packaging for the requirements of these devices, so finding a close, sustainable alternative was a priority. On occasions where we have needed to use plastic-based packaging due to certain parameters, we opted to reuse packaging that we have received parts in. While we appreciate that this isn’t necessarily an option when packaging active devices, re-use is always a first port of call where possible in our shift from a linear to a circular approach. We tested a number of solutions by collecting samples from a variety of suppliers to ensure various requirements for the packaging were met.
5. What has the process taught you?
There really is no need to continue using single use, usually plastic, packaging (certainly in the instance of this project) as there are so many sustainable alternatives readily available that are just as good, if not better, and affordable too with more variety than I ever thought! I think it’s a common misconception with sustainable packaging, that there isn’t much choice, or its expensive, however in reality its quite the opposite and is set to continue improving. We have high hopes that this will apply for regulatory compliant alternatives in the years to come too.
6. How will you approach packaging design (in particularly considering sustainability) for future projects?
In future, I will always opt for using sustainable packaging over non-recyclable plastic packaging where possible. I would hope as more awareness is raised about the effectiveness and environmental impact of using regenerative packaging solutions, the consensus will change in the favour of using sustainable packaging. This being said, we appreciate that packaging active medical devices sustainably will require further consideration to meet regulatory standards although we have come across a number of existing solutions through our research. Hopefully incentives for companies to switch will also continue improving.
7. What advice would you give to others who are considering making more sustainable decisions as part of their process?
Go for it! There are number of sustainable options out there that compete with previously conventional options. You have to start somewhere, and small changes have an impact too. Considerations span from environmentally friendly materials and processes to efficient and cost-saving transportation, education programmes and recycling (and that’s just the packaging alone!).
If you would like to learn more or discuss how Haughton Design can help with your Product or Medical Device development, please get in touch.