Disposal Options for Single-Use Systems

Consider end-of-life options for single-use components.
Feb 01, 2018
Volume 31, Issue 2

BioPharm International asked Andrew Bulpin, head of Process Solutions at MilliporeSigma, about the end-of-life options for disposable components of biopharmaceutical single-use systems.

BioPharm: What are the options for disposal of single-use systems?

Bulpin (MilliporeSigma): Different options are available to users based on where they are located and what works best for their corporate culture and commitments. Waste to energy incineration (WtE) has been an acceptable practice for many users, as it offers an efficient way to collect and dispose of the waste, while converting the energy released by the burning of the plastic to electricity and or steam used in heating municipal resources. However, not every region has WtE facilities near their site, and not every WtE facility will accept single-use materials if they have been classified as bio-hazardous.

The bio-hazardous classification can leave a user with the burden of having to treat the waste at their site, usually by autoclave, before sending it out through local waste management vendors that will bury the waste in a landfill. While Western European manufacturing facilities may have local WtE capabilities, there is still a question regarding the benefits of being able to recycle the high-grade plastic to decrease the use of raw materials (mostly petroleum based) for new plastic products.

In the eastern part of the United States, MilliporeSigma offers a Biopharma Recycling Program, in conjunction with Triumvirate Environmental. The two companies have been working together to help manufacturers using single-use devices and systems recycle the plastic into industrial-grade construction materials. The process, which has been fully permitted to accept bio-hazardous materials as well as other plastic containing devices, can safely sterilize and manufacture recycled plastic lumber under one roof. There are currently 11 manufacturing sites using the program, and while this is the first of its kind, there is hope that this program will help to increase investigation into other technologies that can further reduce the environmental impact of single-use systems. 

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