How disinfection based on UV can contribute to greener healthcare

The healthcare industry keeps growing, and so its carbon dioxide emissions keep increasing. It takes a lot of energy and raw materials to look after and care for people. For example, the healthcare sector in the Netherlands is responsible for about 8.1% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions (1). This is quite a high percentage, which leaves considerable room for improvement. The Sustainable Care Green Deal (2) is an agreement, signed on 10 October 2018, designed to counteract this trend. Healthcare institutions are seeking to implement different types of measures to reduce their emissions. For instance, Leiden University Medical Center has installed smarter air treatment technology in its operating theatres. Measures such as these are badly needed to achieve the targets specified in the Green Deal. Disinfection by means of UV technology can help hospitals attain their targets. Please allow us to explain how below.

Green Deal

‘Sustainable care for a healthy future.’

As mentioned earlier, the healthcare sector itself is a major polluter. It is vital that the entire healthcare sector make a concerted effort to counteract the impact of its processes on our climate and the environment. It is crucial that healthcare institutions, healthcare providers, patients and partners become aware of the targets that must be attained.

In line with government policy, the Dutch healthcare sector is seeking to attain the following targets:

  • Climate crisis: 49% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, and 95% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
  • Circular business practices such as sustainable medical devices, reusables instead of disposables and re-use of plastics.
  • Clearing wastewater of pharmaceutical residues by installing additional treatment steps at sewage treatment plants.
  • Creating a healthy living environment by creating an environment that reduces stress and invites people to engage in healthy behaviour.

Many good steps have already been taken within the healthcare sector. In the future, UV based technology will be able to help reduce the use of disposables and promote the use of re-usable plastic.

Disinfection based on UV technology as a sustainable solution

No single-use materials

The great advantage of surface disinfection by means of UV based tech is that no single-use materials are required during the process. All that is needed to kill bacteria and viruses is for UV technology to reach the surface to be disinfected. Additional wipes, containers or liquids are not needed during the disinfection process, although it is vital that the surface be pre-cleaned correctly. This disinfection technique is also suitable for single-use plastics. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of pre-cleaning, read more about this in ‘Is Manual Cleaning Necessary If I Use UV Based technology

No water or chemicals needed

In addition, UV based surface disinfection is a dry method, meaning that no water or chemicals are used during the process. UV based lamps only require a small amount of electricity to successfully complete a disinfection cycle. In other words, the production and transport of chemicals will be significantly reduced, and there will no longer be a need to filter chemicals from the water system, which will be a major and important step towards making the medical sector more sustainable. The effectiveness of the UV based technology cycle depends on different variables than traditional methods, such as the amount of chemicals used. The variables of UV based disinfection are described in more detail in an article entitled ‘Are all UV Products Equally Effective?’

Fast and effective

The faster turnaround time using UV based disinfection technology often results in reduced inventory. In addition to the rapid disinfection cycle, it is possible to carry out the process in the department. This removes a large part of the logistical challenge and reduces the risk of damage during transport. Healthcare institutions effectively need less equipment to treat the same number of patients. Less equipment equals fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

Recycling

UV based lamps must be replaced by the manufacturer after a set period of time. Always ensure that maintenance or repairs are carried out by the manufacturer or an approved party. This way you will know for sure that the product can be used correctly and reliable. Read more about reliability here: ‘How to Use UV based Light Reliable’. UV based lamps that have been used up are easily recycled. Old lamps can be disposed of as ‘household hazardous waste’ at a household hazardous waste collection facility. Approximately 92% of the raw materials used in the lamps are recycled into new products.(3)

By using UV based disinfection technology for reusable endoscopes, for example, a hospital can reduce its per-cycle carbon dioxide emissions to up to one-sixth of its former emissions. UV Smart D60 is a perfect example of how we can work together to emit less carbon dioxide without compromising reliability or convenience.

Towards a greener healthcare system together!