Not surprising, biopharma plastic recycling isn’t as simple as recycling ordinary plastic. In fact, approximately 30,000 tons of biopharma single use plastic products are landfilled or incinerated each year. One of the key reasons for this lack of recyclability is that biopharma plastics often contain a mixture of silicon, polyethylene and polypropylene – materials that are difficult to separate. In addition, purifying these types of plastics has also proven to be very difficult.
In light of growing concern over the accumulation of single-use and disposable products, new recycling solutions have emerged. MilliporeSigma’s Biopharma Recycling Program uses a process from waste management company Triumvirate Environmental to recycle “bioreactor, buffer and sampling bags (multilayered films), and assemblies and filters,” says Jacqueline Ignacio, global manager, customer sustainability solutions at MilliporeSigma.
As part of our employee spotlight series, we’re sitting down with Jacqueline Ignacio, global manager, customer sustainability solutions at MilliporeSigma, to learn more about the work she’s doing to change the way the life science industry looks at waste. The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada.
1. How did you get your start with MilliporeSigma?
Single-use plastic is on the rise in the life science industry—making it increasingly important to change the end-of-life scenario for products, which often end up in landfills or are incinerated. MilliporeSigma continues to tackle this issue through its unique, industry-first recycling programs operated in partnership with Triumvirate Environmental—taking big steps toward smaller footprints.
Wrapping up our bioprocessing category is MilliporeSigma’s Biopharma Product Recycling Program. The increase in single-use plastics waste is pushing biopharma manufacturers to address the environmental impact of currently utilized methods of disposal, such as landfilling and incineration, and question whether there is a better option.
As single-use technology becomes mainstream, biopharma companies need a better way to handle waste
MilliporeSigma estimates that a single biopharma site produces about 12.5 tons waste per month that is eligible for recycling. As a leading supplier of single-use biopharmaceutical products, including single-use bags, tubing, connectors and filters, MilliporeSigma recognizes the need to reduce the environmental impact of its products.
In 2015, MilliporeSigma launched an exclusive partnership with Triumvirate Environmental in order to enable bioprocess manufacturing customers to fully recycle plastic single-use and disposable products.
It is well known that single-use systems provide a variety of benefits to drug manufacturers, but the growth of single-use brings to mind the environmental impact that comes with this trend. Globally, we estimate that 30,000 tons of biopharma single-use products are disposed to landfill or incineration every year. Single-use systems are made primarily of plastic, and I think most people agree that plastic consumption should be reduced and recycling increased. In fact, the plastic used in single-use technologies is of excellent quality because it has limited or no additives.