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The DEHP dilemma: recycling PVC from medical supplies!

Bloodbag with or without DEHP?

Best practices

Last Summer I attended a seminar that was organized by the Vinyl Council in Washington. They were looking for best practices on the disposal of PVC medical disposables and had invited countries where such a project is already running to give a short presentation.

It’s no news, I’m working very hard on the implementation of a similar project called “Bloody Serious” in the Netherlands so I was very interested to hear these stories.

Delanie Bezuidenhout who leads the project in South Africa kicked off the presentation. She told how her project takes back as much medical PVC as possible, no matter the plasticizer, to bring it directly back to raw material. The raw materials are then used by a partner who turns them into PVC shoes. These shoes are then donated to the youth who use them to complete the uniform to go to school. What a great story: ethical, inclusive, a warm blanket!

We also want to be a success story in Europe, we are able to recycle medical disposables from PVC ( blood, infusion and urine bags) to new raw materials. In fact, it’s a pretty easy process. What makes it difficult is that there is quite a bit of PVC plasticized with DEHP going round in hospitals.


In Europe we have reach!

In Europe, we have REACH, a European regulation on the production and trade of chemicals. This regulation applies to all countries in the European Union. DEHP is one of the 13 plasticizers on the REACH list and has been banned since 2013. There is an exception to the rule, it is allowed to produce medical disposables. There are 30,000 plasticizers that can be used, why doesn’t the industry change its formulation? DEHP has a very good effect on preserving blood. It saves lives on one hand, it’s toxic and carcinoma on the other. Bittersweet!

Fortunately, an alternative has now been found which has equally good influence on hemolysis, namely DEHT/ DOTP. Unfortunately, it comes too late for many producers…. Due to the gigantic pressure of REACH, many have already given in and are producing bags from laminates that are not recyclable.

It is not too late!

Fortunately, many PVC disposables, that can be easily recycled, are still present in hospitals! In addition, I ask buyers of medical disposables to ask the manufacturers for pure PVC materials, produced with the right plasticizer!  Apply for our Bloody Serious Project and have your PVC materials recycled!

In our line we will most probably encounter a mishmash of DEHP and non-DEHP materials. We process all PVC’s and have filed a Parliamentary Question, in cooperation with Jan Huitema’s Committee, “The DEHP dilemma: recycling PVC from medical devices.”   In our best minds,  there is no need for incineration if we can recycle PVC. Even if it means we can’t use it in Europe, (although we can, in outdoors applications), we can help a producer outside of Europa to do great things with this new feed stock!