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Medical Industry Focuses on Energy Use, Waste

All sectors of the medical industry including equipment manufacturing, medical waste services and healthcare facilities are tackling the issue of sustainability. Some of the latest moves include GE Healthcare’s commitment to cut energy use in ultrasound equipment by 25 percent, Sharps Compliance’s breakthrough process that eliminates medical waste to landfills by 100 percent, and a new co-generation plant for St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, New York.

GE Healthcare, and ten other medical device manufacturers in the European Union, have committed to reduce the average energy consumption of new ultrasound products by 25 percent by 2012. With support from the European Union (EU) Commission, these medical device manufacturers have committed to a self-regulatory initiative for the energy-efficient design of medical imaging equipment, starting with ultrasound products.

The group also supports the EU’s Energy Related Products (ErP) directive that establishes a framework for setting resource efficiency standards by product platform and product life cycles.

This decision coincides with the 5-year anniversary of GE’s ecomagination initiative to develop technologies that help customers address their environmental and financial needs.

GE says the new generation of medical devices will significantly cut power consumption across the industry. As an example, if GE’s 700 Voluson E8s were brought into service in the EU in a given year, the annual electricity savings compared to its previous version would total more than 400,000 kWh/year due to decreased scan time and lower power consumption. When multiplied across every model in the industry, the impact will be significant, said GE.

To help cut its energy use, the St. Elizabeth Medical Center was awarded $2 million by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to install an on-site co-generation system that will save the hospital nearly $800,000 a year, reports The Observer-Dispatch.

The combined heat and power (CHP) plant is expected to cut carbon-dioxide emissions annually by about 900 tons, reduce energy costs by $690,000 and provide revenues of $107,000 for energy the hospital supplies back to the power grid.

A tracking system from Intelligent Energy Solutions (IES), the project developer, will monitor the hospital’s energy operations and energy pricing to determine the economics of the hospital generating its own power versus purchasing power through the electric grid.

NYSERDA will collect system data for four years and share it with other organizations to help them improve their energy planning.

In the area of medical waste, Sharps Compliance has developed a Green Waste Conversion Process that is said to eliminate medical waste to landfills by 100 percent.

The process converts discarded medical waste into a new product called PELLA-DRX, which is described as a clean, raw material used in the manufacture of industrial resources particularly for energy-intensive industries such as cement, lime, steel and power plants.

Dealing with medical waste is becoming a big concern for medical facilities from both environmental and cost viewpoints. As a result, more hospitals are turning to reprocessing single-use medical products as a way to reduce waste and cut costs. More than 25 percent of U.S. hospitals are taking advantage of this service, according to a recent report

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