Play your part on World Environment Day, invest in an autoclave

World Environment Day is coming up soon; 5th June 2024 is the date selected by the United Nations to be a focal point for focusing on the environment and how we can help to restore our world and make it resilient to future changes.

The theme this year is focused on land restoration, desertification and drought resilience which isn’t something we can discuss in detail, however what we can look at is how using machines like autoclaves contributes to the ethos of promoting the use of reusable instruments and reducing the footprint of single use alternatives that have a much higher carbon footprint.

We have written about the environmental benefits of reusable medical instruments previously, however there is much more to say about how the usage of an autoclave contributes to sustainability.

These include:

1. The Reduction in Medical Waste

Using a Class B autoclave to sterilise reusable medical equipment helps to reduce the need for disposable/single use alternatives, as well as the volume of waste being produced by healthcare settings. Medical waste often requires special handling and disposal methods that are resource-intensive and environmentally impactful.


2. Energy Efficiency

Contemporary autoclaves often feature advanced technologies that minimise energy consumption during the sterilisation process, reducing the carbon footprint associated with their operation.


3. Water Conservation

Modern autoclaves use less water for steam generation and cooling processes than older models, helping to conserve a valuable resource and reducing the environmental impact of water usage. This also links in part with this year’s theme aspect of drought resilience.


4. Reduction of Chemical Use

All classes of autoclave sterilise using high-pressure steam, eliminating the need for harsh chemical disinfectants. This steam is produced from water that has been purified, either by distillation, UV treatment or Reverse Osmosis. All in, this stops any risk of release from potentially harmful chemicals into the environment, as none are being used.

5. Longevity & Durability

Autoclaves are built to last and have a long operational lifespan as long as they are maintained and serviced as per manufacturer guidelines. This means there is less need for replacement machines, leading to lower material and manufacturing resource consumption over time.


6. Supporting a Circular Economy

Autoclaves hep to support a circular economy model in healthcare (as well as other sectors), by enabling the re-use of medical instruments and other items. This reduces the demand for new products, conserves resources, and minimises waste generation.


7. Compliance with Environmental Regulations

Many countries have strict regulations regarding the disposal of medical waste and the operation of healthcare facilities, the UK included. Class B Autoclaves help aid compliance with these regulations by ensuring that items being sterilised are sterile to the point they reduce the risk of environmental contamination.


8. Promoting Green Practices

Using an autoclave or multiple autoclaves forms part of broader sustainability practices, across all sectors. Institutions that prioritise sterilisation and reuse over single-use items are often more committed to overall sustainable practices, such as reducing energy use, minimising waste, and conserving resources. These points can be something used to help promote a practice to potential employees and users of the setting.


In conclusion, by incorporating the use of an autoclave into daily operations, healthcare facilities can significantly reduce their environmental impact and contribute to more sustainable practices, aligning with global sustainability goals such as those highlighted on World Environment Day.