Eight Dutch hospitals will be recycling medical waste from operating rooms as of 1 October.

They melt it down and turn it into new medical devices.

That can reduce CO2 emissions in the Netherlands by about 1 percent, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) tells NU.nl.

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Hospital care contributes 7 percent to total CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, say TU Delft researchers Bart van Straten and Tim Horeman.

About 80 percent of this is due to the processing of medical waste from operating theatres, explains Van Straten.

"Each year, the operating rooms of hospitals in the Netherlands produce approximately 1.3 million kilos of medical waste, mainly in the form of surgical drapes, medical instruments and mouth masks, which are all intended for single use," explains Van Stralen.

"At the moment all of that is incinerated. That causes CO2 emissions."

The two biomedical scientists from TU Delft have devised a sustainable way of recycling medical waste by melting it at a temperature of 300 degrees.

New medical devices can be developed from the molten material.

The method is described in the

Journal of Cleaner Production


New medical instruments from TU Delft have been tested in Malta since last Monday.

They are partly made from recycled medical waste.

New medical instruments from TU Delft have been tested in Malta since last Monday.

They are partly made from recycled medical waste.

Photo: Tim Horeman

'Recycle industry won't be happy with us'

"The innovation lies in the fact that no substances need to be added to the molten material to make new medical devices from it," says Van Straten about the method that he and Toreman have developed.

"The addition of those so-called additives, that is exactly what the recycling industry lives on. It will not be happy with us."

According to Van Straten, the capacity of the production line that the TU Delft scientists have set up is currently approximately 200,000 kilos of medical waste per year.

"We now process approximately 130,000 kilos of medical waste per year. Fourteen hospitals want to join in, in addition to the eight that will join on 1 October."

In addition to 22 Dutch hospitals, including the Maasstad Hospital in Rotterdam, according to Van Straten, two hospitals from Belgium are also interested in offering their waste from operating rooms for the new recycling method.

The researcher at TU Delft thinks this is a good development.

"Healthcare is doing its utmost to help sick people. But with all those single-use medical devices, we are destroying the environment."

See also: Greenhouse gas emissions in many sectors are already higher than before corona