Closed cycle economics in health care

The scale of use of natural resources today is so large that it threatens to exceed the real capabilities of our planet. The concept of a closed cycle economics paves the way for sustainable development, health and decent working conditions, with respect for the environment and natural resources. In recent years, this concept has gained considerable importance in policy development at the international level, at the EU level and at the level of separate countries, as well as in the context of conducting business and consumer behavior.
The health care sector needs to get rid of unnecessary disposable products and toxic chemicals. Its scale and huge purchasing power mean that it is ideal for promoting reusable, non-toxic solutions that save natural resources, reduce waste and, ultimately, benefit patients, the budget and the planet. shutterstock 1926102965
A closed cycle economics is a model of production and consumption that seeks to maintain the suitability of existing materials and manufactured products for as long as possible through sharing, leasing, reuse, repair and modernization. In a closed cycle economics, the amount of waste is minimized. When products cannot be used or repaired, the materials remain economically recyclable if possible – recycling is also part of the life cycle. Today, the “take> use> throw away” approach is still the most common practice, with only 12% of recyclable materials and resources being recovered for reuse, at best.
The health care sector is a major buyer of goods and services. In the process of treating patients, this industry consumes a huge amount of energy and water, building materials, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, generating waste and polluting the environment.
Increasingly relying on disposable articles, this sector is also very vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. Therefore, the team of the Foundation “Blue Bird” is fighting for the need to move healthcare to a closed cycle economics in which supply chains are set up so that products last longer and waste hierarchies are properly adhered to.
Expanding the circulation of products and materials in the health care sector requires a “green chemistry” approach. Harmful chemicals can be found in a wide range of products used in medical facilities, including disinfectants, medical devices, furniture, electronic equipment, solvents and pharmaceuticals. Replacing substances of very high concern with safer alternatives will not only provide a higher level of safety for patients and healthcare professionals, but will also contribute to greater cyclicality and sustainability due to the wider use of non-toxic materials suitable for reuse and recycling.
The Foundation team develops and advocates for health care strategies to reduce production and consumption (for example, reduce the use of plastic products), as well as pilot projects and awareness-raising educational activities. We strive to establish a dialogue with all stakeholders in the health care sector.
We also consider it important to promote a policy framework that can bring about the necessary transformations, including regulatory measures aimed at phasing out hazardous substances in the product development process.