How to Initiate a ‘Green Transition’ in Healthcare

Environmental Impact

How to Initiate a ‘Green Transition’ in Healthcare

“To some, it can feel counter-intuitive to choose single-use over reusable endoscopes. But single-use endoscopes can be significant in helping hospitals reach both efficiency and environmental targets."

Ernst & Young has nominated Ambu A/S for its 2023 'Green Transition' Sustainability Award.

The award acknowledges companies that are undertaking a green transition by shifting to more sustainable practices and solutions. It is one of several sustainability awards that will be handed out next month by the global professional services firm known as EY.

Ambu, a single-use endoscopy pioneer, has been trumpeting its leadership in environmental initiatives by adopting new strategies and partnerships aimed at reducing its environmental footprint, according to a recent profile published in The Independent.

The substantial carbon emissions generated by the healthcare industry have prompted intensified reduction and management efforts. In fact, if the healthcare sector was a country, it would rank fifth globally for emissions, according to a widely cited climate footprint study done by Arup, a global development firm.

Sustainable Change in Healthcare

The increasing demands placed on hospitals to meet sustainability goals while maintaining excellent care standards are sparking scrutiny of everything from sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) to managing clinical equipment. A crucial avenue for driving change, experts say, involves reimagining healthcare supply chains.

Flexible endoscopy hasn’t escaped notice: By one estimate endoscopy generates the third-highest amount of hazardous waste in a hospital, trailing only anesthetics and pediatrics/intensive care.

Single-Use vs. Reusable Choices

Some research shows that single-use endoscopes have a lower carbon footprint than reusable scopes. That’s because of the waste accumulated with each reprocessing cycle, including PPE, brushes, sponges, and packaging, later disposed in incinerators or landfills. The use — and environmental impact — of chemicals, water and energy in reprocessing is often poorly understood.

Efforts to enhance energy management, phase out disposable equipment — such as brushes, sponges, packaging, and PPE — and better engage suppliers have yielded sustainability improvements, experts told The Independent.

However, healthcare systems like the UK's National Health Service are pushing for even greater sustainability gains, aiming for a zero-carbon footprint by 2045 through eco-friendly procurement strategies.

While focusing on single-use equipment might seem straightforward, a closer examination reveals that single-use endoscopes can significantly contribute to hospitals' environmental objectives.

“To some, it can feel counter-intuitive to choose single-use over reusable endoscopes. But single-use endoscopes can be significant in helping hospitals reach both efficiency and environmental targets,” Ambu A/S Global Sustainability Director Casper Venbjerg Hansen told The Independent.

Single-Use Endoscopy is an Ambu USA Learning Center. The winners of Ernst & Young’s Sustainability Awards will be revealed Sept. 14.

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