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  • EcoDesign for medical devices: Barriers and opportunities to eco effective design of medical devices

Arun Kumar, Pranay, 2020, Thesis, EcoDesign for medical devices: Barriers and opportunities to eco effective design of medical devices MPhil thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Medical devices have a significant negative impact on the environment. The waste generated from medical devices has environmental as well as cost implications. While single-use devices are responsible for rising quantities of medical waste and inventory costs for hospitals, reused devices tend to get involved in cases of reinfection and are more expensive to develop for manufacturers. Beyond the benefits and risks of single-use and reusable devices, the imperative for a less wasteful healthcare system in the United Kingdom lies in the Climate Change Act, which mandates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from the 1990 baseline.

The design of these devices accounts for many of the environmental impacts that occur at the various stages of their lifecycles. Research in ecodesign for medical devices has so far produced more eco-efficient strategies which help progressively reduce the environmental impacts of devices. Based on the reports from the National Health Service, the current efforts at tackling the environmental impact of medical devices are not contributing to the reduction in emissions as required by the Climate Change Act. Eco-effective design is an alternative strategy for preventing waste and maximizing the value of resources used due to the rising pressures from regulatory authorities to reduce environmental impact, and the rising costs of pursuing a take-make-dispose culture, as has been observed in industries such as the automotive sector, electronics sector, textiles and consumer products sector. Yet its application in the medical device industry has not been significantly explored. Through this project, we identify the barriers and opportunities for eco-effective design of medical devices, and propose the principles of eco-effective design of medical devices, providing an approach for integrating eco-effective design strategies in the design process.

Research Question: How can eco-effective strategies be integrated in the design of medical devices?

1. What are the barriers and opportunities to eco-effective design of medical devices?

2. How can these eco-effective strategies be integrated in the design process?

This study explores the barriers and opportunities to eco-effective design for medical devices in two phases. The first phase reviews the regulatory, practical and epistemic barriers and opportunities to eco-effective design of medical devices through academic literature. The second phase of this research uses mapping of material flows as a method for identifying barriers and opportunities for cradle-to-cradle design of medical devices. Using the insights and understanding from these two phases, we developed the principles of eco-effective design for medical devices. The principles have been validated through interviews with field experts.

This project investigates the regulatory, practical and epistemic barriers to eco-effective design in this industry, and identifies design principles to integrate eco-effective design strategies in the design process for medical devices.

Qualification Name: MPhil
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ecodesign; medical device design; cradle-to-cradle
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 10:38
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 12:02
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4467
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