This study indicates that polymer bottles have considerably lower environmental impacts than glass across all categories.
Weight comparison of common bottle sizes indicated an average 78,7% reduction.
The specific medical waste disposal scenario for a typical US site shows that approximately 406 EUR can be saved annually assuming 11 700 units of contrast media consumed.
Environmental Life Cycle Assessment
The polymer bottle significantly outperforms the glass bottle for all environmental impact categories considered (Fig.
Fig. 3: Life cycle comparison of 100-mL polymer and glass bottles for contrast media. Vial manufacturing includes vial body, cap, stopper, crimp, depyrogenation, and autoclaving. Packaging includes secondary packaging and shipping container. Transport includes raw material transport and distribution transport. ‘Other’ includes QC reject, broken and frozen bottles, lost contrast media, and incubation.
Compared to glass,
the polymer bottle offers the following life cycle environmental benefits:
- significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions (46%)
- significantly less cumulative energy (55%)
- lower impact on ecosystem quality (39%) and resources (59%)
- lower impacts in all other categories studied (ranging from 23-43%)
Manufacturing of the bottle components (vial body,
cap and stopper) are the most significant contributors to environmental impact for the polymer bottle,
and the vial body has the highest impacts among the bottle components.
Secondary packaging – meaning the outer box and dividers – and shipping container also contribute to impact.
lost contrast media,
and autoclaving impacts during manufacturing are negligible.
For the glass bottles,
the glass vial body accounts for a large share of the impacts.
The aluminum crimp seal,
and secondary packaging are other important sources of impact.
lost contrast media,
and autoclaving impacts are negligible.
The polymer bottle outperforms the glass bottle for each bottle size studied (Fig.
4). The 500 mL bottle has the lowest impacts per dose and the 50 mL bottle has the highest impacts per dose for both types of bottles.
This can be attributed to the need for less bottle material and packaging (per dose) for the larger bottle sizes.
Fig. 4: Life cycle results for different bottle sizes (50 mL, 100 mL, 200 mL, 500 mL). Results are normalized relative to the 50 mL glass bottle (100%).
The study results also indicate that the polymer bottle is environmentally favorable compared to the glass bottle regardless of the end-of-life disposal method used for either bottle type.
the polymer bottle had lower environmental impact than the glass bottle regardless of electricity grids (manufacturing geographies),
recycled content in glass bottles,
mode of distribution transport,
different contrast media solutions,
and X-ray vs.
MRI diagnostic applications.
Full details are reported elsewhere .
By switching from glass packaging to polymer bottle,
a radiology department could reduce the weight of its contrast media packaging waste.
a typical 200-bed hospital radiology department in the US that purchases approximately 11 700 bottles of contrast media per year could reduce annual contrast media medical waste by 78,7%,
or 1279 kg,
corresponding to $478 [407 EUR] in contrast media medical waste disposal costs annually (Table 2).
Waste reduction benefit of polymer vs.
glass contrast media packaging
|Total weight of glass bottles
|Total weight of polymer bottles
|Medical waste avoided
|Medical waste disposal cost
|Medical waste cost savings
|% of weight and waste disposal costs avoided
Packaging for modern supply chains is increasingly complex.
The goal is to find the optimum solution of many conflicting interests such as end-user convenience,
compatibility between product and packaging materials,
regulatory compliance and integration with existing processing equipment while reducing the associated environmental impact.
In an effort to improve its packaging for contrast media used in medical imaging procedures such as X-rays and MRIs,
GE Healthcare launched its first polypropylene bottle in the early 1990’s.
An important driver for this packaging was that it was believed to be an environmentally friendlier alternative than its traditional glass counterpart.
In subsequent years the packaging line was extended with a new variant that competes primarily against glass bottles in a variety of sizes.
Switching from glass packaging to polymer bottle for the same scenario could eliminate over 20 annual glass bottle related sharps injuries per technologist and lead to productivity savings of 3,5 hours per month .
The study results are intended to provide comparative insight regarding the environmental and operational differences between polymer and glass bottles for contrast media delivery.
By analyzing the polymer and glass bottles in detail,
this study provides useful insight regarding the comparative environmental and operational impacts of each bottle type,
as well as where the largest environmental impacts are occurring for each bottle type.