Leading by example
We aim to create solutions that not only improve healthcare for professionals and their patients, but also have the lowest environmental footprint possible via:
- An integrated circular approach from product design to manufacturing and disposal of our devices
- Research to find renewable materials that reduce the impact of the plastic in our products and material used for our packaging
- Solutions for take-back and recycling processes that keep our products from ending up in landfills and transform waste into energy
- Immediate actions that offset the environmental impact of our products while we simultaneously work towards long-term solutions
Ambu’s ongoing collaborations with customers, partners and suppliers help to drive a circular approach, which every participant adds to and benefits from. Join the Circle.
JOIN THE CIRCLE
Get an overview of our efforts to drive circular thinking in the healthcare industry.
Introducing bioplastics in our endoscopes
The world’s first endoscopes with bioplastic material
One tangible example of how we are paving the way in sustainability for single-use endoscopy is by introducing the use of bioplastics in our endoscope handles. This will start with Ambu® aScopeTM Gastro Large, and by 2025, we aim to use bioplastics in every endoscope handle we produce.
A more sustainable source of material
Bioplastics are made from second-generation bio-based feedstock mixed with fossil-based raw materials. Second-generation bio-based feedstock:
Reduces our carbon footprint
The use of bioplastic material in our endoscope handles will reduce the carbon footprint of the ABS plastics we use by 70%. In the future, we will build on this initiative by expanding the use of bioplastics in other parts of our endoscopes.
Learn more about single-use endoscopes and the environment
Scroll down to learn how single-use endoscopy solutions compare with reusable ones in the area of sustainability and how we envision the future for the recycling of single-use endoscopes.
Have you considered the hidden waste associated with reprocessing?
It's true that with single-use, you dispose of the endoscope itself after each use. But it is important to consider that, unlike reusable endoscopes, single-use endoscopes do not require reprocessing.
A multitude of single-use products are used for reprocessing
Single-use eliminates the energy consumed during reprocessing as well as the disposal of cleaning materials, such as:
While further research is needed to get a picture of the full life cycle in different clinical areas, one urology study showed that the solid waste from one reprocessing cycle was four times heavier than the waste of one single-use cystoscope.1
The image shows the solid waste generated by one reprocessing cycle of reusable endoscopes. Single-use eliminates reprocessing and all the associated waste.
One reprocessing cycle
uses more water than a typical shower
Studies show that the amount of water used for one reprocessing cycle of a reusable bronchoscope uses 64 litres of water1-3, and for reusable cystoscopes, 60 litres of water are used.
The amount of water used for reprocessing a reusable bronchoscope and cystoscope, respectively, is more than the amount used in an average shower.1-3
The reprocessing of reusable endoscopes
involves hazardous gases
In addition to the impact on water quality, the 100+ steps of reprocessing can involve gases and liquid chemical by-products of High-Level Disinfectants (such as o-Phthalaldehyde and glutaraldehyde) that can be hazardous and, in some cases, illegal when disposed of in sewers.4-6
Chemicals that are harmful to your staff and the environment
Chemicals used for reprocessing not only have a negative environmental impact, they can also cause asthma, dermatitis,
mucous membrane damage, and eye and skin damage for healthcare professionals.7
What do comparative studies say?
Single-use impact equal to or less than reusable in some cases
Three studies suggest that when everything is considered, the environmental impact of single-use ureteroscopes, bronchoscopes and cystoscopes is in fact equal to or less than that of their reusable counterparts. Further research is needed to determine the full life cycle impact.
Research shows great promise for the recycling of single-use endoscopes
A recyclability analysis of aScope 4 Broncho showed that theoretically this endoscope can be safely collected and disassembled and more than 85% of its weight can be recycled10.
While, current regulations make the recycling of single-use endoscopes unfeasible due to medical risks, our long-term goal is recycling at scale in all focus markets by 2025.
Currently, we have a take-back and energy recovery partnership with Sharps in the US and a take-back and recycling pilot project in Germany.
While we work towards future possibilities for safe processing and recycling of single-use endoscopes, we're taking other initiatives. For example, we've partnered with Plastic Bank® to support the collection of ocean-bound plastic waste in order to offset the effect of our aScope endoscopes in EMEA and Latin America.
Learn about Ambu single-use endoscopes for clinical areas
1. Tiphaine Boucheron, Eric Lechevallier, Bastien Gondran-Tellier, Floriane Michel, Cyrille Bastide, Nathalie Martin, and Michael Baboudjian.Cost and Environmental Impact of Disposable Flexible Cystoscopes Compared to Reusable Devices. Journal of Endourology. Oct 2022.1317-1321. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.purol.2021.08.067.
2. Birgitte Lilholt Sørensen, Henrik Grüttner. (2018) Comparative Study on Environmental Impacts of Reusable and Single-Use Bronchoscopes
3. Australia: https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/water-volumes-teacher-notes.pdf (55L per shower)
EU: European Environment Agency https://www.oieau.org/eaudoc/system/files/documents/41/209216/209216_doc.pdf
US: Alliance for Water Efficiency: https://home-water-works.org/indoor-use/showers
5. https://www.oshasolutions.com/blog/why-neutralize-high-level-disinfectants/#:~:text=Is it Illegal?,(POTW) without first neutralizing.&text=That the sole active chemical of the neutralizing solution is glycine.
6. Program-wide Scope Reprocessing Competency Package, Kaiser Permanente, p. 41, https://studylib.net/doc/7338200/rinse%09flush
7. Walters 2019, SGNA 2013
8. Davis NF, et al. J Endourol. 2018 Mar;32(3):214-217. Carbon footprint in flexible ureteroscopy: a comparative study on the environmental impact of reusable and single-use ureteroscopes (Carbon Footprint in Flexible Ureteroscopy: A Comparative Study on the Environmental Impact of Reusable and Single-Use Ureteroscopes (s-icd.ca))
9. Baboudjian, et al., Life Cycle Assessment of Reusable and Disposable Cystoscopes: A Path to Greener Urological Procedures, Euro Uro Focus, 2022 Dec, Epub ahead of print
10. Recycling pilot project – data available upon request