Dismantling old equipment is about creating value and eliminating hazardous substances – as in the case of oxygen self-rescuers, for example, which are used in the mining industry. A technician carefully dismantles the product by hand, removes the cartridge that contains a chemical that produces oxygen, and deactivates the starter. The plastics are labeled; these are sorted into their distinct types and then recycled.
With up to eight tons each day, hospitals are the fifth-largest producers of waste in Germany. On average, each patient produces around six kilos per day, three times more than a normal, healthy citizen. Dräger begins focusing on the economical use of materials and their recyclability in the product development stage. Blue and black recycling containers have been set up at hospitals and industrial facilities for years so that equipment can be returned in the correct manner. Dräger largely remains unrivaled in terms of offering such a service.
“We have the experience and the expertise, because we know what the equipment contains,” says Florian Baer. “If required, we can take care of the entire logistics and offer our customers a complete package.” This is made possible by the Dräger Waste Management Association, which was established around twenty years ago. On behalf of its members, it handles all tasks relating to eco-friendly, legal, and economical waste management. The big Dräger companies in Lübeck and other industrial firms (a total of 26 businesses) send everything here that they no longer need. “We separate and sort the goods, keep the necessary legal records, and produce reports documenting the amount of waste,” says Baer. Rather than being a disposal business, Dräger Waste Management is actually a service provider that works on behalf of the association. “We send the material for recycling – or, if this is not possible, for disposal and landfill.”
Dräger sampling tubes are constantly being used for the analysis of harmful substances. The reagent system contains tiny amounts of different chemicals. Substances that are subject to authorization requirements in accordance with the EU REACH Regulation have already been replaced by less harmful substances in the production process. Used or expired Dräger tubes can be sent to Lübeck for recycling. Dräger also conducts research to determine whether ventilation tubes and filters can be manufactured from bioplastic or recyclate. “Unfortunately, this is where we are still reaching our limits, because the regulations for medical products are very strict,” says Dr. Schatz. There is generally no guarantee that recyclate meets the same quality requirements as new plastic. And compared to conventional plastic, the production of bioplastic is expensive.