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Recycling Blood Collection Tubes – from Hazardous Waste to Resource

This feasibility study investigates whether it is possible to recycle PET plastic from used blood collection tubes.

Purpose

The project will investigate the potential of recycling PET plastic from blood collection tubes, with the purpose of developing a circular model for blood collection tubes.

The end goal is that PET plastic from the blood collection tubes is recycled rather than incinerated as hazardous waste, since PET plastic is of high quality and highly suitable for recycling.

The project aims for a proof-of-concept where the results will, on the one hand, be used to qualify methods in recycling blood collection tubes, and on the other hand, contribute with knowledge regarding the potential for recycling other plastic products in healthcare within the hazardous waste category.

The project supports the Regional Council’s goal of increasing the degree of recycling to at least 45%.

Background

Odense University Hospital (OUH) is leading the green transition at laboratories in the region. The aim is to support the Region of Southern Denmark’s goal related to consumption and production based on circular economy by 2025. As one of the largest hospitals in Denmark, Odense University Hospital has a naturally high consumption and thus a high climate footprint.

On a daily basis, approximately 10,000 blood samples are analysed at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at OUH. The current process for disposing the tubes is through incineration, as they are classified as hazardous waste. This process has a negative climate footprint and is also very expensive. The Department of Clinical Biochemistry disposes of about 12 tons of hazardous waste every year. Across the Region of Southern Denmark, approximately 11 million blood collection tubes are used and disposed of every year.

Mads Nybo, Chief Physician at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at OUH will, together with the Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark, investigate, develop and test possibilities for reducing the amount of hazardous waste and recycling plastic from blood collection tubes.

Manufacturers of blood collection tubes are facing a future where it will become increasingly difficult to access raw materials for manufacturing e.g. blood collection tubes. Therefore, there is an interest and momentum from industry partners to investigate the possibilities for bringing recycled materials back into the production and establish a circular economy model.

This means that there is an interest from both the manufacturers and the hospitals in investigating the possibilities of recycling PET plastic. However, it is important to test and analyse whether it is possible to recycle the blood collections tubes in terms of technical -, safety - and quality aspects before the partners engage in a larger development project.

Feasibility Study

In 2023, a feasibility study has been initiated with funding from the Region of Southern Denmark. The feasibility study carries out a small-scale test on how the blood collection tubes can be emptied and cleaned in order for the plastic to be recycled and ensuring that no biological material and coating from the tubes compromises safety, hygiene, and quality of the PET material. The feasibility study investigates the quality of the recycled material and performs a comparative analysis to assess the potential of bringing the recycled material into a circular model for blood collection tubes.

Expected impact

By recycling blood collection tubes, the hospitals can contribute to the Region’s targets for increasing circularity. The recycling process can contribute to:

  • Increasing the recycling of PET plastic
  • Increasing circularity by keeping the materials and resources in the production cycle and contributing to security of supply in a time with scarce resources
  • Reducing the amount of hazardous waste and transportation of this fraction
  • Reducing costs related to the disposal of hazardous waste.

Partnership

  • The Department for Clinical Biochemistry at Odense University Hospital and Chief Physician Mads Nybo are the Project owner
  • The Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark is the Project Manager for processes and partnership on behalf of Odense University Hospital
  • The Danish Technological Institute is responsible for testing removal of labels and decomposition of the material and for testing for contamination and microbiology
  • GMAF Circular Medico /ECOFitt is responsible for testing the usability of the recycled material and for conducting a comparative analysis in terms of regulatory standards and demands from Becton-Dickinson. Furthermore, they contribute with knowledge on models for circularity
  • BD (Becton-Dickinson) is one of the largest international manufacturers of blood collection tubes. They contribute to the project with information on requirements for the material in order for it to be included in their production process. They also contribute by qualifying the project results.

Project period

  • The collaboration was initiated in 2020. The feasibility study runs from 1st of April 2023 to December 2023.

Feel free to contact

Caroline Strudwick

Projektleder

Innovativt Byggeri og Drift


40 24 75 87 Caroline Strudwick på LinkedIn

Stine Poulsgaard

Innovationskonsulent

Innovativt byggeri og drift


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