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Engineering Impact: Product stewardship

By: 3BL Media

Excerpts from the 2021 Medtronic Integrated Performance Report

SOURCE: Medtronic


Our increasing focus on product stewardship helps us preserve financial, social, and natural resources. We prioritize patient safety while reducing the environmental impacts of our products and packaging. This approach helps us address current and emerging regulations and maintain customer satisfaction.

We are experiencing shifting demand toward more sustainable products and packaging as stakeholders examine the global environmental impacts of a product’s full life cycle. Because

medical devices are complex and have specific limitations around material use and disposal, we seek opportunities to reduce environmental impacts at every stage of the product life cycle, while also maintaining our high standards for product quality and safety.


We align our product stewardship activities with the following standards and regulations:

  • California Proposition 65 (see Medtronic disclosures at
  • E.U. Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)
  • E.U. Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)
  • E.U. Medical Device Regulation
  • Waste Framework Directive requirements for substances of concern

Product footprint and the circular economy

To reduce the environmental footprint of our products and packaging where possible, we will establish a product stewardship center of expertise in FY22 that will focus on packaging renovations in high-volume products to reduce waste and the elimination of targeted materials of concern in all new product and packaging development. As part of this effort, in early FY22, we set two new product stewardship targets:

  • By FY25, Medtronic will complete packaging improvements to reduce packaging waste by 25% for targeted high-volume products (tied to weight, material selection, and sourcing) compared to a FY21 baseline.
  • By FY27, Medtronic will minimize the impact of Instructions for Use (IFUs) through a 35% paper reduction, compared to a FY21 baseline.

We also look for opportunities to give products a second life by collecting them for recycling, refurbishing, and reprocessing. For example, we collect:

  • NellcorTM pulse oximetry devices to recycle or remanufacture
  • MyCareLink™ Heart monitors to refurbish and redeploy
  • Surgical technologies for energy generation from waste

In FY21, we collected more than 4 million products and diverted 217 metric tons of product waste from landfill. We follow international guidelines and regulations for the disposal and recycling of electronic waste. Read more about our approach to waste disposal. Our Sustainable Packaging Working group continues packaging development process. For example, in FY21, we shrank the sterile packaging volume for our spinal cord stimulation needles, reducing GHG emissions related to this product.

We extend our impact by working with suppliers that focus on sustainable packaging. We also work with partners and experts to find innovative solutions. For example:

  • We are on the board of CB2, a university-led collaboration developing products from agricultural and forestry feedstock, and we help fund its research into bioplastics and compostable materials.
  • We partner with other companies, such as Amazon and 3M, to research sustainable packaging, and we work with new suppliers to bring innovative ideas to market.
  • As active members of the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC), we participate in packaging-related projects, including the development of packaging design guidance and research on advanced recycling technologies.

Materials of concern

We work to minimize the use of materials of concern, as defined under a variety of global regulatory requirements. Materials of concern include substances with the potential — if not managed correctly — to negatively impact people or the environment.

Our internal Materials of Concern policy guides our approach, which includes requiring our suppliers to responsibly manage and disclose any such materials used in our manufacturing processes, final products, or packaging.

We evaluate alternative material components where possible to mitigate environmental impacts. We continue to work to reduce the amount of ethylene oxide (EO) used in sterilization processes and participate in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Innovation Challenge to reduce and mitigate any impacts from the use of ethylene oxide (EO) while maintaining product sterility. We are one of several medical device companies working to identify and evaluate new sterilization methods and technologies, as well as reduction efforts.

In FY21, we completed a submission to the FDA and other relevant regulatory bodies for our first EO optimization project for a product manufactured and sterilized in Galway, Ireland. We have other optimization projects ongoing in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Read report.

Tweet me: See how @Medtronic is prioritizing patient safety while reducing the environmental impacts of its products and packaging.

KEYWORDS: patient safety, Sustainability, social resources, Natural Resources, Resources, environment, NYSE:MDT, Medtronic

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