Innovation That Matters

Medical waste has become a pressing issue during the COVID-19 pandemic | Photo source Pixabay

A process for remanufacturing single-use medical devices

Health & Wellbeing

A social enterprise takes used single-use medical devices—usually destined for landfill—and remanufactures them back to their original state

Spotted: According to Christchurch-based startup Medsalv, the amount of money wasted in New Zealand as a result of discarded medical devices amounts to more than NZD$100 million dollars (€59 million) per year.

To tackle this, Medsalv remanufactures single-use medical devices so they can be reused safely. The used medical devices are subjected to a number of processes that make them clinically safe and suitable for reuse. The products are then sold back to hospitals for a lower-than-new price .

Once used, devices are collected in containers dedicated to each specific type of device. An online portal allows healthcare staff to notify Medsalv when a container is full. Medsalv then co-ordinates the shipping of full containers to the company’s dedicated facility, minimising cardboard usage by employing re-usable cartons. Once in the remanufacturing facility, the devices are sorted and given a unique device identifier number. The devices are then put through a proprietary cleaning process, and can then be re-ordered by hospitals. Devices are contained in clearly-marked Medsalv packaging, and returned in re-usable cartons.

The safety of devices is a key concern for Medsalv. The unique identifier number allows every device to be tracked throughout the process, and every device is inspected between five and nine times during remanufacturing. Finally, every device is subjected to a final inspection prior to packaging, using state of the art testing equipment. This ensures functionality and cleanliness.

“My uncle, a surgeon, showed me the scale of the problem with medical devices that weren’t able to be used – as their sterilisation had expired,” explains Medsalv CEO Oliver Hunt. “He pushed me to figure out a way to safely reuse them.”

The Medsalv team is currently composed of 17 individuals and the company already works with over half of New Zealand’s hospitals—public and private—with continued growth on the cards.

Medical waste is a growing problem, which is generating several creative solutions. These include a process to recycle used face masks into batteries, and a 3D-printed portable toilet made from used medical waste.

Written By: Katrina Lane



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