Philips at CleanMed – closing the loop on the Circular Economy
At this year’s CleanMed Conference in the U.S., Philips, a global leader in health technology, and the international NGO Health Care Without Harm, a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice, jointly organized an interactive workshop titled ‘Healthcare Transformation towards a Circular Economy Model’. Bringing together representatives from leading Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs), the session focused on how customers and suppliers of health technology could work together to co-create circular economy solutions.
The workshop clearly identified two distinct IDN groups: those that already embrace the circular economy and are assessing opportunities to implement it, and those that are not yet fully committed but want to know more. Their top two drivers: furthering their sustainability vision/strategy and achieving cost savings. The workshop attendees cited extending the life of medical technology from years to decades through a process of continuous upgrade and improvement as one of the main themes for discussion.
Philips is not only committed to keeping medical technology in hospitals operating at state-of-the-art performance for as long as possible. When the technology finally reaches the end of its useful life, it is committed to implementing a circular economy policy of return, refurbish, repurpose and recycle. That’s not just for the future, it’s already happening. Here we speak to Olesya Struk, Group Sustainability Senior Director, on Philips’ role at CleanMed.
Why is CleanMed relevant to Philips and how do you participate?
OS: CleanMed is the premier conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability – a platform for healthcare leaders to gather, innovate, and collaborate to develop new sustainability standards, practices and products, and lead a societal transformation where individual, community and planetary health is the aim. It’s a great opportunity to meet customers and learn about their needs, and a great space for co-creation and the sharing of best practices. The conference had approximately 1000 attendees, including representatives from the ten leading U.S. health systems and three leading supply chain partners. In addition, Philips Design facilitated a co-creation workshop with a select group of participants.
What is your view on how collaboration can transform hospitals?
OS: We decided to build this year’s co-creation session around the Circular Economy. We recognize it as an urgent topic but also a difficult one for hospitals. Do we just have to recycle our waste or is there a broader business case for implementing circular economy solutions? Given that healthcare represents almost 20% of the US economy and 10% globally and is increasingly committed to sustainability and the principle of ‘do no harm’, it makes sense for the sector to embrace circular economy solutions. Especially for large contracts, we see a growing demand for circular solutions. For example, many customers now set requirements on upgradability, reparability and system take back, or they simply ask how Philips can support their ambition to lower their carbon footprint.
What do you expect in terms of outcomes from the event?
OS: CleanMed participants, including Philips, share the goal to improve healthcare without doing harm to the environment. Our work at CleanMed is another step towards that goal. It’s not enough just for Philips to reach its sustainability ambitions. We need to team up with our customers and suppliers to retain the value of our materials, to send zero waste to landfill, to be energy neutral. We need to work together towards the implementation of a circular economy model so we all reach our sustainability ambitions.
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