ATIM Cluster

The Challenge

Circularising and Recycling Plastic Waste in Irish Healthcare Settings.

Technology Readiness Level 7+.

In detail

This project aims to revolutionise plastic waste management within Irish healthcare settings by establishing a circular economy approach to recycling high-quality plastic waste. Given the considerable plastic consumption in healthcare settings and the mounting legislative pressure to incorporate recycled materials, this initiative aims to not only reduces plastic waste sent to landfills but also aligns with regulatory requirements while fostering a sustainable future.

Specific challenges:

  • Identify and develop new packaging products suitable for reuse
  • Identify and demonstrate options for recycling non-reusable packaging in the medical/laboratory sector

Additional background information:

  • Only about 30% of plastic waste generated in Europe in 2014 was recycled (PlasticsEurope, 2016) which could lead to severe environmental impacts such as toxic components leaching into soils and aquifers, or ultimately furthering marine litter generation.
  • Irish laboratories generate high volumes of single-use, high quality plastic waste, all of which goes to incineration and then to landfill waste
  • One of the biggest obstacles to scaling up recycling is access to sorted plastic-waste feedstock – require changes in consumer behaviour, the building out of infrastructure, and investments in recycling capacity.
  • Growing regulatory action around the world, with policies specifically targeting single-use plastics, extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations, and recycled-content requirements – limited access to recycled plastic
  • Transporters and recycling facilities currently require a waste permit or licence.
  • The plastic is of sufficient grade and quality that it could be diverted from waste to provide feedstock to the polymer sector in Ireland – therefore collective action to overcome some of the hurdles outlined above is essential.

What does implementation look like?

  1. Increased diversion of high-quality plastic waste from healthcare settings landfills through effective recycling initiatives.
  2. Development of cutting-edge recycling technologies and circular economy solutions tailored to the healthcare sector’s unique needs.
  3. Reduced environmental footprint of healthcare operations through the integration of recycled materials.
  4. Enhanced compliance with legislative requirements for incorporating recycled materials in healthcare products and facilities.
  5. Cost savings for healthcare facilities through optimized waste management practices and resource efficiency.
  6. Promotion of sustainability and environmental stewardship within the healthcare sector.
By embracing circular economy principles and innovative recycling initiatives, this project offers a transformative solution to the challenge of plastic waste management in Irish healthcare settings. Through collaboration, innovation, and stakeholder engagement, we can create a sustainable healthcare system that minimises waste, conserves resources, and safeguards the health and well-being of patients and communities”

Company background

ATIM (advanced technologies in manufacturing) cluster is an Irish manufacturing cluster organisation. We bring together a industry leaders, research institutions, and government bodies to unlock the potential of the sector through access to in-depth knowledge, services and supports. Our members are becoming more competitive and prepared for markets of tomorrow.

Explain your approach to sustainability

ATIM has six strategic pillars as part of its current strategy. Sustainability is a key pillar under this strategy. The primary focus is to align cluster members’ operations with environmentally responsible practices by identifying and implementing innovative projects, technologies, circular economy principles, and fostering a holistic approach to sustainability To deliver this goal, the atim cluster delivers the following to support members:
  • Knowledge sharing and best practice: Organise regular workshops and events where companies can share insights on sustainable practices, recycling technologies, and regulatory requirements.
  • Facilitate joint R&D projects aimed at developing new recycling technologies or improving existing ones.
  • Provide support in navigating regulatory requirements and standards for sustainability and recycling
  • Support in the delivery and coordination of training programs to support sustainability and innovation
  • Identify and support startups in developing innovative recycling technologies
  • Support the identification and adoption of sustainable practices and technologies into polymer manufacturing businesses