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Title: Sustainable packaging in the healthcare industry
Author: King, Timothy Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2696 4617
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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The recycling of plastics tends to lag behind other packaging materials. The research investigates opportunities to improve the capture of valuable packaging polymers and to preserve their specification during recycle operations, thus increasing second user opportunity. The legislative and policy drivers on the sustainable use of plastics are described and discussed with particular reference to achieving sustainability, reuse and recycle of healthcare packaging materials. Four strategic methods of achieving improvements in sustainability, reuse and recycle are developed to represent aspects of sorting of materials, collection of recyclables, replacement of unsustainable packaging materials and measurement of the environmental impacts of packaging and changes in packaging, using examples of packaging from GlaxoSmithKline consumer healthcare and medical products. The use of radio frequency identification methodology as a means of separating high quality plastics and individual reusable devices from mixed waste streams has been developed and trialled under simulated materials recycling and separation conditions. The use of Reverse Vending Machines (RVM's) designed to capture high quality polyethylene terephthalate polymers is described along with results of successful trials on this method of capture in the out of home consumption sector. Recovered material is suitable for reuse in food grade applications after reprocessing. A novel biodegradable packaging material has been successfully developed from sources of green waste as an alternative to existing polymer packaging materials for transport of vaccines, and provides results that are extendable to the replacement of other types of packaging over a wide range of consumer goods. The material also offers intangible benefits to a business in terms of claims that can be made within a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report. Life cycle analysis methodologies have been used to illustrate the environmental benefits that can be achieved by reuse of polypropylene as an example of a widely used packaging polymer with potential for reuse in other industrial sectors. The implications of the results obtained in this work should be of value in the future eco-design of polymer products designed to make end-of-life recovery and recycle more efficient and environmentally beneficial.
Supervisor: Roberts-McIntosh, Alexis ; Grimes, Sue Sponsor: GlaxoSmithKline
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral