From landfill to recycling

CASE STUDY | How did one company take a competitor’s green advantage and turn it into a superlative solution? Read the Becton Dickinson case.

August 01, 2012

In hospitals syringes and other biohazardous waste are disposed of using Sharps containers. Current practice was disposing of the one-time use Sharps containers and their contents by way of sanitization followed by landfill or by incineration. When competitors began talking about how much better a reusable sharps container was from a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) perspective, Becton Dickinson (BD), a leading global medical technology company, used their knowledge of LCA to create a service that they thought was even better.


The competitive solution was to sanitize and reuse the containers while the waste followed the conventional path to disposal. In BD's ecoFinity Life Cycle solution, both the waste and the containers will go through a recycling process which will recycle up to 70% of the plastic and metal. 


Becton Dickinson strives to improve the accuracy, safety and sustainability of healthcare worldwide. One of their many focuses revolves around reaching a common sustainability goal throughout hospitals: to reduce waste and increase recycling.

When faced with stiff competition, they turned to LCA to identify an even better solution for their customers and the planet. BD took off with the LCA concepts and was soon doing screening level modeling of its top products.


With the help of EarthShift, BD performed a cradle to cradle comparison of the three disposal systems per ISO 14040 standards. Now it is able to show that the impacts of their method including recycling and re-use of the products are far less than those of either the current practice or the competitor’s reuse option.


The program is also a success with hospitals. Randy Veenstra of the Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where they are piloting the new Sharps recycling program, expects that 38,000 pounds of Sharps will be diverted from the landfill this year.


For more information on the ecoFinity project please contact our team.




Lise Laurin, EarthShift, SimaPro partner in the USA

"EarthShift began working with BD in 2008, starting with training in LCA and SimaPro. EarthShift also supported BD’s screening level LCAs in the form of web meetings and calls. BD later asked EarthShift to help with an LCA study that met ISO requirements for a comparative assertion of the three disposal systems."

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