Blue mountain lake with mountains in the background Blue mountain lake with mountains in the background

World Environment Day on 5.6.2024

5/22/2024

How to reduce the growing environmental impact of plastic and carbon emissions in the healthcare system

World Environment Day has been held annually on June 5 since 1973 under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The campaign day aims to make people around the world more aware of the increasing environmental impact, for example,of plastic waste and carbon emissions and to develop solutions to protect the planet [1].However, it is not just the classic “climate sinners” such as industry, agriculture and transport that are responsible for environmental pollution. The healthcare system also contributes significantly to man-made climate change with high carbon emissions and large amounts of plastic waste. In fact, the global healthcare system is responsible for 4.4% of all carbon emissions and would therefore—if it were a country—rank fifth among the countries with the highest carbon emissions [2].

Increased sustainability in goods transport: higher pallet utilization

It is interesting to note that supply chains, such as the production, transport and disposal of goods, account for over 70% of CO2 emissions in the healthcare sector [2]. We at HARTMANN are therefore constantly working to make our products and their distribution as sustainable as possible in order to realise potential savings. To contribute to greater sustainability through a more efficient distribution of transport-related CO2 emissions, we have set ourselves the goal of increasing the pallet utilisation of our products in the future. We have already successfully implemented this measure with first products. For example, pallet utilization for Bode X-Wipes was increased by 30%, for Bacillol® 30 Sensitive Foam (750mL) by 25%, and for Bacillol® Zero Tissues (100 pieces) as well as Bacillol® 30 Sensitive Green Tissues (120 pieces) in comparison with Bacillol® 30 Sensitive Tissues by 66% and 100%, respectively.This can reduce the number of transports required and thus the transport-related carbon footprint of our products. And that should just be the beginning.
Graphic palette with surface disinfectant wipes and canisters

Mission Zero: more sustainable disinfection solutions thanks to 0% plastic in wipes

The single-use products and plastic packaging systems used in the healthcare system, such as pouches, blisters, bottles, ampoules, cartridges, inhalers or injectors,are another important aspect when it comes to environmental protection [3]. Since only a small proportion of plastics are or can be recycled, these products sooner or later become waste and are then usually “thermally recycled”, which means they are burned and released into the atmosphere as carbon [4]. In order to show commitment in this area, HARTMANN aims to reduce the plastic footprint of surface disinfection wipes to zero by 2028. To this end, as part of Mission Zero, the plastic content in wipes will be gradually reduced through targeted innovations and the further development of the portfolio. We already took a first step in this direction in September 2023 by launching the new Bacillol® Zero Tissues in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The wipes used in Bacillol® Zero Tissues are 100% plastic-free, made of biodegradable material, impregnated with a patented active ingredient complex based on organic fruit acids and have a CO2 footprint that is up to 75% lower than conventional surface disinfection wipes. With the development of Bacillol® Zero Tissues, HARTMANN successfully laid the foundation for Mission Zero. Shortly afterwards - in April 2024 - the bestseller Bacillol® 30 Sensitive Tissues followed as Green Tissues with 100% plastic-free wiping material.

Green zero with graphic avatars in front holding a sign saying "Mission Zero"

Environmental protection requires combined forces

World Environment Day on June 5 has become the largest global platform for environmental work, with millions of people from around the world committed to protecting the planet. More than 150 countries are currently taking part because important environmental goals can only be achieved together. The UNEP involves governments, cities and communities as well as companies, schools and the general population to raise awareness of the problem. While this year's World Environment Day focuses on the topics of desertification and drought, other important topics such as climate protection and plastic waste are also continuously addressed. If you would also like to support environmental protection, share your commitment using the hashtag #WorldEnvironmentDay or even start your own activities.

Use disinfectants safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Sources:

  1. https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/
  2. Karliner J, et al. (2019) Health care’s climate footprint, How The Health Sector Contributes To The Global Climate Crisis And Opportunities For Action.
  3. Cuadros-Rodríguez L, et al. (2020) Leachables from plastic materials in contact with drugs. State of the art and review of current analytical approaches. Int J Pharm 583:119332.
  4. Joseph B, et al. (2021) Recycling of medical plastics. Advanced Industrial and Engineering Polymer Research 4: 199-208.

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