What is Net Zero and How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in Medical Devices?

A phrase you may recognise is ‘Net Zero’, but what does it really mean? 

Net zero refers to the level of emissions emitted into the atmosphere being balanced by the removal of emissions elsewhere.

According to Net Zero Climate, in order to prevent climate change worsening, ‘human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero by 2050”.

Healthcare systems are huge contributors to a large global footprint. Health Affairs states that “The health sector is responsible for 4.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions”. NHS UK aim to be the world’s first net zero national health service in order to provide quality care for patients, staff, the public and now the environment too.

But how can you reduce your carbon footprint in medical devices? Read below to learn more.


Best Practices to Decrease Medical Device Emissions


Use resources more efficiently

Increased resource efficiency is essential in decreasing carbon emissions and waste. The production of medical device materials is a large source of greenhouse gases which are emitted into the atmosphere.

Green Alliance produced a report titled ‘Less in, more out’ which highlights the key ways of using resource efficiency to cut your carbon emissions. The report revealed that “improving material use could reduce emissions by nearly 200 MTCO2 by 2023”. Resource efficient strategies in relation to medical devices include optimising R&D, using recyclable and reusable materials, and operating low-waste production strategies.

The health industry often relies on single-use disposable devices to adhere to infection prevention rules. Products that are manufactured for one-use-only are unsustainable and generate high amounts of waste and carbon emissions.

Alternatively, investing in reusable alternatives could achieve a lower environmental impact.


Substitute unrecyclable materials for low-carbon alternatives

Similarly, substituting waste materials for recyclable or biodegradable alternatives helps protect the environment. Recycling reduces the needs for extracting, meaning less energy is spent on sourcing and processing new raw materials. For example, Friends of the Earth state that producing new aluminium from previously-used products uses 95% less energy. Using less energy on sourcing and processing new materials produces lower carbon emissions.

Additionally, opting for low-carbon alternatives, such as reusable products, will minimise the amount of waste produced.

For example, the CE/UKCA marked Helloface Transparent Medical Mask is made from 100% recyclable materials.


Ensure suppliers are decarbonising their own processes

Decarbonising your procurement process is a vital way of ensuring a good environmental product lifetime. In order to identify what aspects of your supply chain need decarbonising, you need to actively collaborate with stakeholders to leverage innovative solutions.

Starting the journey of decarbonisation may seem daunting, however the positive climate effect that is produced after will be extremely impactful.


But, what can I personally do?


If you don’t have influence over the decision making and elements of your supply chain, your personal actions can still make a huge impact.

There are multiple ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, from opting to cycle to work rather than drive to planting a tree in your garden.

You can invest in carbon offsets for your business. A carbon offset is a method of balancing for your carbon emissions by financially funding an equivalent carbon saving elsewhere in the business.

In the example of planting trees, One Tree Planted plant a tree for every $1 donated to their charity's reforestation efforts. Planting trees are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as they are natural carbon absorbers. In fact, One Tree Planted state that one mature tree can absorb up to 22lbs per year!


What are Helloface doing to reduce carbon emissions?


Helloface are a Design Abled Ltd brand of CE/UKCA marked, transparent face masks. Originating in July 2020, Helloface are producing an approved transparent medical mask for use in hospitals, care homes, domiciliary care and clinics.

Following their own sustainable mission, Helloface aim to reach net zero by 2030. A core value of their business is to preserve the environment.

Committed to the achievement of great environmental performance, the Helloface team have implemented sustainability in all areas of the business.

They aim to implement effective waste-prevention and recycling regimes to ensure the product lifecycle of their transparent face mask prevents external pollution.

Furthermore, they promote environmental responsibility through a sustainable supply chain and work closely with them to obtain an eco-friendly product lifecycle from sourcing to disposal. This includes forming recycling and upcycling partnerships.

Recently, the Helloface team volunteered in their local community by supporting the University of Hertfordshire’s ‘Go Green Week’ campaign. By creating and hosting their own environmental awareness activity, they helped students identify recyclable materials to reshape their sustainable actions.

They made the decision that educating students was the best root to impacting their future recycling habits. This initiative reached over 28,000 students on Instagram, 46,000 on Twitter and 120 within a face-to-face activity at the university, with 95% saying it increased their awareness and understanding of what products are suitable for recycling versus general waste.

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