Georgia Patent of the Month – November 2020
As we get better at treating disease our life expectancy is increasing, along with our reliance on drugs – especially by our elderly citizens. As such, the production of medical grade packaging has also grown. Projected to reach USD 9.31 billion, the market for plastic pharmaceutical bottles was USD 7.34 billion in 2018. This packaging, usually plastic, ends up going to waste after the product is used. In 2018, a survey conducted across four Mayo Clinic locations found that single-use plastics made up at least 20% of medical waste generated in U.S. hospitals. Because natural resources are becoming limited, there is a growing demand for pharmaceutical containers to be recycled. However, these programs have only recently been applied to medical containers, and there are many issues with them. Pharmaceutical plastics are required to meet certain standards, with restrictions on additives, for FDA approval. So, recycling these containers is more complicated than others. Plastics are typically mixed together during recycling, which would result in contamination and make it harder to sanitize them for reuse. To improve the recycling of pharmaceutical plastics, Altium Healthcare Inc. developed a self-contained recycling system.
The system includes an isolated recycling process that does not come into contact with other plastics. This ensures pharmaceutical containers are properly returned for reuse and are not contaminated. Transport is arranged to return them to the pharmaceutical recycling facility in isolated containment. The packaging is then ground up and new containers are formed from this. The grounds can also be sold to a third party manufacturer of pharmaceutical packaging, so as not to waste extra unused material. During the recycling process, the ground material must also be purified according to FDA standards before forming new containers to ensure quality and sanitization. Then, approved transport will redistribute the new containers (again in isolation) to pharmaceutical companies for use.
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