Ensuring Today’s Innovations Do Not Become Tomorrow’s Problems

Consider these tips for engineering sustainability into products and processes without compromising performance and safety.

Susan Shepard

April 18, 2024

3 Min Read
Edgard Ngaboyamahina Innovation Advisor at RTI International

At a Glance

  • Understanding the global landscape of sustainability regulations and market demands is essential.
  • At IME South, speaker Edgard Ngaboyamahina will share best practices across all industries, including medtech.
  • It's never too early to start, says Ngaboyamahina.

There is a growing demand for sustainable products and solutions in the medtech industry, both to satisfy new regulations and for the environmental health of the planet. And although medtech companies may be currently exempt from certain regulatory requirements, it’s never too early to start incorporating sustainability systems, said Edgard Ngaboyamahina, in an interview with Design News.

Ngaboyamahina will present “Best Practices for Integrating Sustainability Without Compromising Performance and Safety” at IME South, during which he will lay out some action plans that attendees can use to begin their own journeys toward sustainability.

“Sustainability is particularly challenging for medtech companies because of the complexity of products, as well as their supply chains” said Ngaboyamahina, who is an Innovation Advisor at RTI International. “There are more and more connected devices, for instance.”

Global supply chains can present issues in incorporating sustainability. Ngaboyamahina mentioned the EU Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on packaging and waste regulation recently and it is set to take effect starting next year. While medtech and health industries may be exempted from some requirements, their suppliers might not have been. 

“It will have an impact across all industries and geographies,” he said. “Since those requirements will be enacted in some form across North America soon, companies there need a thorough grasp of them,” he continued. “So, understanding the global landscape is both timely and very challenging to companies.

Ngaboyamahina stressed that it is not just the responsibility of manufacturers to incorporate sustainability. “It’s important to look at the whole value chain, the whole supply chain, and have a systems approach,” he said.

At IME South, Ngaboyamahina said he intends to demonstrate how important it is to have cross-functional partnerships, meaning within the same organizations there needs to be alignment, from the president and CEO, but also considering R&D, finance, and other departments. He noted that there also should be a discussion with external partners. 

“Something that we again are starting to see more and more across industries is these consortia across industries, because it's not anymore, ‘okay. I'm going to design a product by just working within the organization,’ but it's important to learn from competitors as well on how we can develop more sustainable solutions,” Ngaboyamahina explained. “Something that I want to insist on is that it's not an 'I' problem—it’s a 'we' problem and everyone has to be aware of it.”

One of the main reasons that companies are not making efforts toward sustainability, Ngaboyamahina said, is that they just don’t know how to start. “And another challenge is potential reputational risk,” he said. “They need to have a framework for designing for sustainability, so that today’s innovations do not become tomorrow's problems.”

In his presentation at IME South, Ngaboyamahina said he will share some best practices that he has seen across all industries, but also within the medtech space. He will also provide some resources for companies to start their journey to sustainability.

His presentation is meant for everyone to attend, not just those with a technical background, but he would especially like to see VPs of sustainability, R&D directors and managers, and packaging designers there. 

Ngaboyamahina concluded by saying, “I hope my audience walks away with an action plan to have in mind, to say ‘I should start by doing this.’ ”

"Best Practices for Integrating Sustainability Without Compromising Performance and Safety” will be held on Wednesday, June 5, from 12:00 to 12:45 p.m., in the Medtech Theater at IME South. 

IME South features six different co-located shows: Design & Manufacturing South, ATX South, MD&M South, SouthPack, Plastic South, and Powder/Bulk Solids South.

About the Author(s)

Susan Shepard

Susan Shepard is a freelance contributor to Design News and MD+DI.

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