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About The Potential Of PVC-Based Medical Device Recycling


Hospitals use a lot of single-use PVC-based medical devices every day. Besides being safe and affordable, PVC is easily recyclable and keeps its technical properties through numerous recycling cycles. Also, many of the devices are used on non-infectious patients. These advantages have led to the set-up of medical devices recycling systems in the healthcare sector.


In 2021, VinylPlus launched the collaborative partnership VinylPlusŪ Med. Aimed at accelerating sustainability in European healthcare through the recycling of discarded single-use PVC medical devices, the project brings together hospitals, waste managers, recyclers and the PVC industry. The scheme will focus on clean and REACH-compliant PVC waste that can be recycled into a wide range of value products marketed across Europe. Belgium is chosen as pilot country. Additional pilot programmes are underway in other European countries.


Products are typically recycled


Some of the products that are typically recycled in existing recycling schemes are Oxygen & anaesthetic masks, Oxygen tubing , Dialysis bags ,IV bags


Why recycle medical devices?


Potential is huge . Studies show that only a small fraction of the medical plastic waste is infectious. By recycling medical devices both hospitals and the environment win:


Cost savings for hospitals


Hospitals can save money on waste management by sorting out devices for collection and recycling rather than sending them to costly incineration.


CO2 savings


For each kilo of PVC recycled, 2 kilos of CO2 are saved.


Energy savings


Energy savings of up to 90% are achieved when using recycled PVC instead of virgin PVC.


Safe collection & recycling


In existing PVC recycling schemes, only devices used on pre-screened patients for elective surgery are collected for recycling. The practice thus poses no greater risk than recycling of used soda or drinking water bottles.


High grade recyclate


High grade PVC is used for medical devices. The recyclate can be turned into a wide variety of useful products.


Untapped resource


It has been calculated that a 300-bed hospital could recycle 2.5 tonnes/year of PVC oxygen masks & tubing, IV bags and nasal cannulaes.



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