The need for less waste and more recycling in

A presentation at this year’s annual meeting of the European Society for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm (September 19-23) will highlight the need to reduce the amount of waste generated from diabetes care products and discuss various strategies to increase sustainability and recycling of diabetes technologies. The lecture will be delivered by Professor Lutz Heinemann, Science Consultants at Diabetes GmbH, Karst, Germany.

A collaboration involving medical professionals, environmental health experts and manufacturers recently (summer 2021) came together to reduce the environmental footprint of plastics used in diabetes care.[1, 2]. Professor Heinemann explains: “After all, single-use diabetes devices — such as needles, syringes, pens, lancets, blood glucose monitoring strips, monitors, CGM systems, insulin bottles, infusion tubes, pumps, and disposable batteries — produce huge amounts of plastic and waste. other.[1] However, the diabetes care products themselves may only account for 10% of the total weight and volume of waste, and the rest is the packaging.”[3]

The Diabetes Technology Society (DTS) in the United States is at the forefront of attempts to reduce diabetes-related waste. DTS is committed to conserving natural resources and waste management processes to promote environmental sustainability, which is based on five rupees: reduce, reuse, recycle, redesign and re-educate.[1]

In 2021, DTS held the Green Diabetes Summit. This was the first time that players from all relevant groups talked to each other about sustainability and reducing plastic waste. “During the meeting, it became clear that we all have to leave our comfort zone and see what each of us can contribute,” explains Professor Heinemann. “Only by joining forces and building alliances will we have the opportunity to tackle plastic waste from Diabetes care. We have to promote the sustainability of diabetes devices throughout the life of the product, including the use of raw materials for manufacturing, packaging and transportation.”

Recycling in diabetes is nothing new. A recycling initiative backed the first off-the-shelf insulin pen, launched by Novo Nordisk in the 1990s. The pens have been recycled into the park benches.[3] Under the Novo Nordisk pilot program in Denmark, patients can now recycle used pens through pharmacies. Recycling products seems like a good idea at first glance; However, separating existing products into their various components is often difficult. Currently, there is only a small market for recycled plastic.

The Green Diabetes Summit explored the importance of balancing performance and environmental impact when designing and developing new products. “A change in mindset is needed when designing new products to address this problem,” explains Professor Heinemann. “Designers need to think about recycling from the start. Otherwise, it is difficult to separate batteries, electronic parts, and plastic. There is also a need for a shift in the attitude of buyers and buyers of diabetes products in order to view sustainable products positively and to have a competitive advantage in the market. Inevitably, Recycling and other environmental initiatives carry costs.”

Whether patients or health services, even in high-income countries, are willing to pay a higher price for more environmentally friendly products is a moot point. The triple bottom line (Profit, People, Planet), which is used to assess the sustainability of a company or organization, is an accounting framework that includes financial performance as well as social and environmental benefits. A change in awareness at the community level will be needed to appreciate all three parts of the industry’s triple bottom line to consider environmental benefits in product design.

“People with diabetes will be more interested in plastic waste,” says Professor Heinemann. “If they start to base their choice of insulin pen or CDM system also on the environmental impact, that will have an impact on companies.” Regulatory or legal frameworks that are imposed will also help reduce the environmental footprint of these medicinal products. Professor Heinemann concludes that “Recognizing the need for concerted efforts and the emergence of a collaborative approach regarding waste management associated with diabetes treatment, if all stakeholders work together to create alliances dedicated to diabetes system sustainability and waste management, then much can be achieved.”

Professor Lutz Heinemann, Scientific Consultant at Diabetes GmbH, Karst, Germany. Please send an email to arrange the interview. e)

Tony Kirby at EASD Media Center. Tel) +44 7834 385827 H)

To read the Diabetes Technology Association Green Declaration, please click over here

For a summary of Professor Heinemann’s meeting presentation, please click over here

This work will be part of the EASD compression that is forbidden to zoom in/out Set 12.00 PM Stockholm time on Tuesday 20th September To join the Zoom event, click the link below at this time.

Professor Heinemann will give his presentation during the session. The heat is on! Diabetes and Climate Change: Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 17:30 – 18:30, Nobel Hall


1. Klonov DC, Heinemann L, Cook CB, Thompson BM, Ker D, Han Jie, et al. Diabetes Technology Association’s Green Diabetes Initiative. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2020; 14 (3): 507–12. doi: 10.1177/1932296820904175. PubMed PMID: 32019344.

2. Nguyen KT, Xu NY, Zhang JY, Shang T, DuBord AY, Heinemann L, et al. Diabetes Green Summit 2021. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2021; 16 (1): 233-4. doi: 10.1177/19322968211049800.

3. Heinemann L, Krisiunas E. Diabetes technology and waste: a complex problem that piles up! J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2019; 13 (5): 815-6. Epub 2019/03/13. doi: 10.1177/1932296819836395. PubMed PMID: 30866677.

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