The Environmental Impact of Disposable Technologies - Can disposables reduce your facility's environmental footprint? - BioPharm International

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The Environmental Impact of Disposable Technologies
Can disposables reduce your facility's environmental footprint?


BioPharm International Supplements


Steelwork

The amount of steel required to build a disposables-based facility is about 62% less than that required for a stainless steel–engineered plant, which can be attributed to the reduced square footage of the disposables-engineered facility and the fact that it is a single-story building.

Carbon


Table 5. Summary of CO2 emissions per batch for three different electricity sources. The values in the "difference" column are relative to the stainless-steel facility. Regardless of the energy source, the disposables-based facility reduced CO2 emissions by more than 25%.
Table 5 summarizes the emission of CO2 per batch for three electricity sources. In all instances, the emission of CO2 decreases by about 25.5% for the facility using disposables relative to the traditional stainless steel–equipped facility. The reduction in CO2 emissions is derived mainly from the reduced usage of WFI, which has more than compensated for the emission of CO2 associated with the use of plastics (e.g., transportation, polymerization, incineration).

Conclusions

This article has evaluated the environmental impact of the traditional stainless-steel facility and the disposables-engineered plant for the manufacture of a typical monoclonal antibody process at a 3 x 2,000 L scale. The study considers several aspects of the environmental footprint, including carbon output and the usage of water and land. The disposables-based facility reduces the overall environmental impact despite the creation of solid plastic waste. The benefits are derived from significant reductions in water usage (87%), space (38%), and energy (30%) to operate such a facility. As a consequence, there is a substantial decrease in carbon footprint.

In all the fuel source options, the magnitude of the carbon footprint reduction when implementing disposables is about 25.5% when compared to the stainless-steel facility. This is a significant reduction in the impact of manufacturing facilities on climate change. Looking further at the key drivers that give rise to these carbon footprint savings (ignoring all items whose change is less than +/– 1%), the percent reduction attributable to the disposables-based facility is as follows:

  • facility size: –4.0%
  • water systems: –18.8%
  • plastics disposal: +5.0%
  • number of workers driving to work: –7.7%.

It can be seen that the greatest impact of disposables results from reduced water requirements. For the stainless steel facility, water usage is one of the most significant contributors to the carbon footprint (excluding driving to work). The key consequence of the extensive use of disposables, therefore, is the removal of significant requirements for high quality water by eliminating clean-in-place (CIP) operations. This gives rise to one of the key impacts in terms of reducing the facility's overall carbon footprint: water use.


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