Companies Strive to Reduce Environmental Impact

July 9, 2007

3 Min Read
Companies Strive to Reduce Environmental Impact

Originally Published MPMN July/August 2007


Companies Strive to Reduce Environmental Impact

The VisIV from Hospira eliminates plastic overwraps.

Medical manufacturing is not immune to the current trend towards “green” business practices and products, as recent activities at LAI Midwest (Minneapolis;, Hospira Inc. (Lake Forest, IL;, and Liberty Wire & Cable (Colorado Springs, CO; can attest.

After installing a filter press to recycle water at its Fridley, MN, facility, LAI Midwest—a combined laser and waterjet machining service provider—cut its daily water consumption of 8000 gallons roughly in half. In addition, employees at the facility last year recycled 57 tons of scrap metal, 2160 lb of cardboard, 1000 lb of newsprint, 100 lb of aluminum cans, 80 lb of glass and plastic bottles, and 180 fluorescent bulbs.

As a result of these efforts, the Anoka County Solid Waste Advisory Task Force has awarded the company a Waste Buster Recognition award.

“The conservation and recycling program was driven by our employees,” says Frank Bailey, the Fridley plant manager. “After sharing ideas and teaming up to create a plan to reuse and recycle, all of our employees took an active role in contributing to the cause.”

The 40 employees at the plant are responsible for collecting and delivering recycled items to a drop-off recycling center. To cut down on wasted paper, employees have printed double-sided documents, used scrap paper, purchased recycled paper, and have donated 200 lb of shredded paper to the Anoka County Humane Society.

The company began promoting its recycling efforts in June 2006 with posters, flyers, e-mail messages, company meetings, and bulletin board postings. Following in the steps of the Fridley plant, LAI’s facility in Westminster, MD, has launched a similar recycling program.

While LAI has taken steps to reduce its waste, Hospira Inc. has developed a product that it says will allow hospitals to be less wasteful. The VisIV intravenous solution container results in 40–70% less waste than other flexible IV containers, according to the company. The container accomplishes this reduction by using multilayer film and advanced port technology to eliminate the plastic overwrap.

“With the average hospital generating an estimated 6600 tons of waste per day, even small steps, like changing an IV bag, can make a huge difference,” says Bob Felicelli, vice president and general manager, specialty pharmaceutical, Hospira.

Government regulators are increasingly trying to make a difference by introducing “green” industrial standards. The EU’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, for one, calls for reduction in the use of lead and five other chemicals. RoHS went into effect in 2006; however, Liberty Wire & Cable—a provider of cable products and connectors—has been voluntarily developing compliant products for several years. More than 90% of the company’s approximately 6000 products are already RoHS compliant.

The RoHS directive was adopted by the European Union in 2003 and became effective in 2006. It restricts the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, two polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ether in electronic and electrical equipment. Other countries are implementing or considering the RoHS directive, and California already recognizes portions of it.

Copyright ©2007 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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