The responsible treatment of healthcare products after customer use is an important issue worldwide. Because the appropriate approach varies by type of product, Baxter has a range of initiatives. For example, some of the electronic medical devices Baxter sells, such as renal automated peritoneal dialysis cyclers, are well suited to repair and refurbishment after the original customer has finished using them (see below). Many of the company’s other products, such as intravenous (IV) bags, cannot be reused due to regulatory, quality and safety reasons but may be responsibly recycled to recapture materials for other uses.
In some countries, Baxter leases most of its electronic medical products to customers, which helps ensure they will be returned to Baxter after a set period of time. As appropriate, the company uses repair and refurbishment, which extends a product's useful life and decreases the environmental impacts associated with product disposal and the manufacture of new products.
At times, reuse is not feasible and regulations worldwide reflect the recent focus on electronic product recycling. For example, the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires companies to arrange for the take-back of electronic products at end-of-life to enable the recovery and recycling of product components and materials. This regulation impacts a range of Baxter products in Europe, including dialysis machines, IV pumps and other electronic devices. Baxter is in full compliance in all EU member states where the regulations have been adopted. In 2011, approximately 100 metric tons of electronic products were recovered on Baxter's behalf through these programs in Europe.
Baxter’s WEEE website provides customers detailed information on WEEE and how to dispose of Baxter products in accordance with the Directive, in each of the European Union Member States.
When customers return products to Baxter that contain batteries, or when Baxter repairs those products on-site, Baxter sends the batteries to a recycler when feasible, or otherwise provides for responsible disposal.
Disposable Medical Waste
Baxter has worked with customers, other companies in the industry, and recycling and disposal vendors to facilitate the recycling and responsible treatment of disposable medical products. The company was a charter member of the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC), an alliance of global healthcare companies focused on the recycling of plastic products in hospitals. Baxter is now one of 11 companies involved with HPRC in the development of the Design Guidelines for Optimal Hospital Plastics Recycling, primarily intended for product designers and users of disposable medical devices.
Baxter continues to look for other opportunities to partner with waste management and recycling firms to test the economic and logistical feasibility of more efficient management of wastes generated from Baxter IV products. Possibilities include creating products from recycled materials that can be reused in the medical supply chain, such as plastic pallets made from mixed IV bags or packaging.
Baxter won the Repak Best Practice in Industry Award in 2011 for its innovative program in Ireland offering services to pick up and responsibly process waste for home renal and oncology patients. Contractors collect, process and dispose of the products as required by law1 , while protecting patient confidentiality and privacy. The program also collects recyclable materials such as cardboard from patients' homes where local authorities don't offer this service, decreasing the amount of these materials that go to disposal. In 2011, Baxter provided waste-collection services to more than 590 home patients in Ireland through this program, collecting a total of 86 metrics tons of waste.
Global Audit Program
Baxter has a global audit program covering all regulated or medical waste recycling or disposal sites that Baxter uses for waste generated internally. As part of this program, before using a medical waste recycling or disposal vendor, trained Baxter auditors assess the vendor for compliance with Baxter’s requirements. Repeat audits are then conducted at least once every four years. These audits examine all aspects of operations, including site history, regulatory compliance, financial conditions, insurance, and other factors. Baxter has audited and approved more than 200 regulated or medical waste recycling or disposal sites through this program.
|1||Oncology products are classed as "hazardous" waste in Ireland which requires specialized incineration. Non-hazardous medical waste, such as over renal product pouches, bags, cassettes and shields, is classed as "clinical" waste and is sterilized and shredded before the material is accepted for landfill.|