Share |

Medical Technology and the Environment

Society today is aware of the environmental impact of industrial activity and as a result, all industries need to ensure that their environmental footprint is as low-impact and ‘green’ as possible; the medical technology sector is no exception.

Many Eucomed members are adopting the ISO 14001 management standard, designed to assist companies in reducing their negative impact on the environment. In addition, Eucomed has created an Environmental group to monitor relative legislation, ensuring that industry plays its role in reducing impact on the environment.

It is not surprising that the sector has taken a lead in ensuring that it minimises its environmental footprint; such an approach sits comfortably with the industry’s commitment to improve the health and welfare of citizens. The medical technology industry in Europe recognises its duty to act responsibly and work in a sustainable fashion that will preserve the environment now and in the future.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) is a European Directive to regulate the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste). The Directive was created to deal with the environmental and health risks from inadequately treated e-waste.

For the manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment, responsibility for the disposal of e-waste arising from their products now lies with them. They must have a mechanism to allow all private individuals to return e-waste for recovery and recycling free of charge (such as is the case with used toner cartridges). Manufacturers then have to ensure the waste is handled in an environmentally responsible fashion, either by reuse, recycling, or other appropriate disposal.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHs) Directive is EU legislation restricting the use of six specific hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment in order to prevent their release into the environment both during their use and at the ‘end of life’. Many electrical medical devices will fall within the scope of the Directive, e.g. blood bag warmers, infusion pumps and baby incubators. This may require some redesign of devices and a system to ensure that purchased components are compliant as well.

Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals

Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) is an EU Regulation addressing the production and use of chemical substances and their potential impacts on human health and the environment. The primary objective of REACH is to control the human exposure and release of chemicals and substances into the environment and to ensure those who place chemicals and substances on the EU market understand the consequences of the substances they are releasing and ensure the appropriate level of controls are in place.