Reusability – the key to a sustainable health care system.

Safety, eco-friendliness and added value in Austria: reusable surgical textiles. 

  • Austria is a worldwide pioneer and model country regarding reusable surgical textiles
  • Reusability ensures climate protection and waste prevention
  • Highest safety for patients and best working conditions for doctors
  • Ecological optimisation also makes economic sense

On the occasion of the presentation of an independent study about the environmental impact of reusable surgical textiles compared to disposable products, Dr. Philipp puts the message in a nutshell: “An ecologically responsible and sustainably operated health care sector is simply unthinkable without the rigorous promotion of reusable systems.” As president of the industrial laundries, in 2013 he presented the ecological assessment study “The ecological evaluation of surgical textiles” in the framework of a press conference of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO): “Although your healthy common sense tells you that reusable systems are more sustainable and more eco-friendly than throw-away products, the ecological advantages have now been scientifically corroborated.”

Sustainable – also for the economy

The study by “Industrie Wissenschaftlichen Institutes” (IWI) with the title “Economic effects of Austrian laundries in the field of reusable surgical textiles” calculates an added value of 1:2 for investments in surgical textiles. Each euro spent means double the benefit for the Austrian economy.   

Reusability clearly eco-friendlier

Greenhouse-gas potential – also known as the carbon footprint – represents an important ecological factor. The environmental agency Denkstatt compares the environmental effect of reusable surgical textiles with disposable products and comes to the following results:

Carbon footprint – CO2 emission of reusable surgical textiles is half that created by disposable products.
The system incorporating reusability clearly exhibits less eutrophication potential. Disposable products cause 35 % more. 

Product Carbon Footprint von OP Textilien

The use of reusable surgical textiles reduces summer smog by more than half.
In comparison, reusable products cause considerably less waste, whereas disposable articles cause 4.5 times more waste.

Due to the washing process, however, reusable surgical textiles need more fresh water – a factor SALESIANER MIETTEX takes into account through scrupulous effluent regulation. Emissions are laid down in detail in effluent legislation.

The Denkstatt study is based on an assumption of an annual 1.21 million surgical interventions in Austria. On average, 1.5 surgical sets and 3 surgical gowns are required for an operation. Textile surgical gowns are subjected to a washing process in sterile conditions and are reused 75 times. Surgical table covers and other surgical textiles up to 35 times. Thanks to the thermal utilisation in cement rotary kilns, carbon can be substituted at the end of the life cycle.
In contrast, disposable surgical articles under the same conditions have a carbon footprint of 5,500 t CO2 equivalent emissions – in other words, more than twice as much.

The eutrophication potential (over-fertilization potential) describes the mass of nutrients discharged into the water and soil. Despite frequent washing, reusable textiles are at 5.0 t phosphate equivalents, which is less than disposable articles at 6.6 t.

Saving mountains of waste

Reusable surgical textiles show the biggest advantage in the reduction of waste materials. One year’s consumption volume is equivalent to some 360,000 garments of reusable textiles, but 16 million items of disposable products which are thrown away – which represents 2,300 tonnes. The disposable system causes 4.5 times more waste.  

Abfälle von OP Textilien