Medical plastic waste recycling – a summary of our third Creative Hub workshop

In June 2023, iCAST organised a workshop at Workshed, Swindon, aimed at fostering discussions on the current status and future prospects of recycling medical plastic waste.

The workshop, addressed by Professor Matthew Davidson, Executive Director of iCAST, gathered a total of 27 participants, including industry experts, representatives from relevant associations, academia, and the Catapult community.

Participants shared valuable knowledge and insights into the recycling of medical and pharmaceutical plastic waste. For example, a recycling company delivered a talk on the “Overview and Opportunities in Medical Plastic Waste Recycling”, and an expert from the Cell and Gene Therapeutics Catapult spoke about “Challenges in Bioprocessing Industries”.

A facilitated discussion followed, addressing barriers and challenges faced by stakeholders. Key topics included life cycles, supply chains, regulations, material usage, stakeholder perceptions, and the need for coherence across product life cycles. The session transitioned into creative problem-solving, ideation, planning, and interrogation.

Throughout the event, participants emphasised the importance of engaging with the public, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to translate research and innovations into tangible benefits for a sustainable future. Building on these discussions, five potential projects were identified:

  1. Qualifying feedstocks
  2. QR coding primary packaging (sterile)
  3. PVC-free recycling of medical plastics/devices
  4. Engaging with regulators
  5. Reviewing value chains (selecting a device, understanding current Life Cycle Assessments, and identifying gaps)

These efforts will not only advance recycling practices within the medical and pharmaceutical sectors but also contribute significantly to the broader goal of reducing plastic waste and promoting environmental sustainability.

Since it was held a year ago, this workshop has fostered a strong community of academics, representatives from industry and the Catapult, leading to significant connections for collaborative project development and funding applications. Further outcomes have been the Researcher in Residence (RiR) programme with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and the addition of new industry members.

The insights and collaborations emerging from this workshop underscore iCAST’s commitment to transforming scientific research into real-world applications that benefit society and the environment.

Read a detailed summary of this workshop. 

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