Recycling glass fiber medical instruments

Solvay and French start up Ostium have set up a project focusing on recycling glass fiber surgical instruments.

Plans are to enable the mechanical recycling of end-of-life single-use surgical instruments that contain Solvay’s polyarylamide (PARA) materials molded with glass fiber.

The resultant material could be used to make new polymers, the companies said. Initial trials suggest that the recycled PARA compounds have up up to 85% of flexural properties and no loss in surface appearance when compared with a non-recycled grade.

The companies also want to promote replacing metal surgical instruments with plastic ones, which they claim could help medical facilities reduce sterilization time and cost.

“Our customers in the healthcare industry must meet strict regulatory demands, while at the same time striving to minimize the carbon footprint of their products and support the reduction of hospitals and clinics' end-of-life waste,” says Claire Guerrero, global marketing manager at Solvay. “We identified a gap between these challenges, which prompted us to forge this unique collaboration for developing a breakthrough recycling process for used surgical instruments that are commonly disposed of by incineration rather than reclaiming their high material value.”