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About Making Medical Plastics Sector More Sustainable


As published in ,Matthew Durbin, co-founder of Tone Product Design, explains that there’s a lot more product designers can do to build a better future.


The correct design strategy for minimising medical device waste is somewhat dependent on product value. Lower-value products looking to reduce, recycle and dispose can design for separation, waste management and recycling, for example. For higher-value products there’s an opportunity to develop with reprocessing and durability in mind or to take a hybrid route.


A hybrid design strategy, where reusable components are coupled with disposable elements, provides the ability to reuse parts of the device – this is especially useful when considering devices where the largest component doesn’t come into contact with biological mechanisms and is reusable without the need for disinfection. Designers need to consider the total lifecycle of these products, minimise non-renewable materials and consider alternative approaches.


For example, a recently designed a product called Releaf Freedom, which allows everyone, but especially elderly and less able patients, to urinate comfortably whether standing or seated, giving them the independence and dignity of being able to manage going to the loo without help from a carer. The two-part architecture involves a disposable biodegradable bag and a reusable handle. Many other products in this sector are entirely disposable, meaning that a vast amount of plastic is wasted after just one use. The Releaf Freedom handle can be reused hundreds of times, vastly reducing the waste generated.


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