Leading the Way in Sustainability by Revitalizing Medical Device Housings
- A collaboration between Hyperfine, Inc. and SEKISUI KYDEX showcases how medical device and materials companies can champion a greener future.
- By emphasizing complete lifecycle management, the collaboration aims to minimize material waste and enhance environmental responsibility in the medical sector.
- This initiative challenges industry norms and sets new standards by demonstrating a commitment to clinical excellence and ecological sustainability.
Hyperfine, Inc. and SEKISUI KYDEX have joined forces in a pioneering collaboration that addresses sustainability in the medical device industry. The journey began in 2015 when Hyperfine, Inc. incorporated KYDEX® thermoplastics into early prototypes of the Swoop® system. The Swoop system is the world’s first FDA-cleared portable ultra-low field MR brain imaging system and, as such, is a completely new form factor and design for a magnetic resonance imaging system. The partnership between Hyperfine, Inc. and SEKISUI KYDEX has now expanded to embrace a sustainability initiative with early Swoop prototypes and research system housings being recycled in cooperation with SEKISUI KYDEX and Ultra-Poly, showcasing how medical device and materials companies can champion a greener future.
Hyperfine, Inc. measures success beyond clinical achievements—it prioritizes its environmental footprint and aims to do so in the context of industry-leading fast iteration and innovation in the medical device capital equipment sector. Consequently, due to the growing number of retired research systems and prior generation prototypes built during the system’s rapid development iterations, Hyperfine, Inc. sought a partner committed to the entire life cycle of the Swoop system’s PVC housing, ensuring the material stays out of landfills. With few industry examples to lean on, Hyperfine, Inc. proactively established relationships with suppliers, vendors, and other resources, creating a recycling program for the Swoop system.
In 2022, Hyperfine, Inc. took significant strides by initiating efforts to collect outdated prototype and research system housings for recycling. Leveraging the existing relationship with SEKISUI KYDEX, Clara Dewey, a mechanical engineer for Hyperfine, Inc., reached out to discuss their in-house recycling program with Ultra-Poly. Clara described the journey, "At first, it seemed like a daunting task with no examples to follow, but SEKISUI KYDEX and Ultra-Poly were instrumental in simplifying the process."
SEKISUI KYDEX has long embraced sustainability by recycling KYDEX® materials. As a result of their in-house recycling and partnership with Ultra-Poly, they are currently recycling over 20 million lbs. of regrind annually. Their collaboration with Hyperfine, Inc. marks a milestone, with housings from used medical devices finding new life through recycling and avoiding landfill waste. Mark Denning, medical market business manager for SEKISUI KYDEX, emphasized their dedication, "We don’t want these housings to be discarded in a landfill when we can recycle them. The Hyperfine, Inc. initiative to return retired housings enables a full life cycle."
In an era where "greenwashing" is a common practice—empty talk about sustainability with no tangible action—the proactive attitude of Hyperfine, Inc. sparked a collaboration focused on sustainable solutions. This partnership exemplifies how medical device companies can positively impact the environment. "We're excited about the prospect of being a medical device company focused on bettering the world and showing it is possible to achieve sustainability success on top of our clinical success,” Clara shared, reinforcing enthusiasm about the future,
In the grand scheme of industry practices, it's worth noting that the development and research-related waste generated by Hyperfine, Inc. is consistent with that typically seen in medical device companies and other innovative industries. However, what sets Hyperfine, Inc. apart is its proactive approach to addressing this waste and ensuring sustainability long before commercial systems begin to reach the end of life.
The recycling program involves three companies, each specializing in their portion of the supply chain. Hyperfine, Inc. has an in-house program to disassemble retired Swoop prototypes and research systems for recycling. They collect and forward the housings to SEKISUI KYDEX South Campus in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. There, in-house recycling partner Ultra-Poly grinds and pulverizes the housings, creating resin that offers these materials a second life in new applications.
As this collaboration gains momentum, Hyperfine, Inc. and SEKISUI KYDEX are committed to expanding recycling efforts and exploring additional sustainability initiatives. A shared vision of a greener future sets a positive example for the medical device industry. Hyperfine, Inc. and SEKISUI KYDEX demonstrate how companies can integrate responsible manufacturing practices into groundbreaking medical advancements. Their dedication to sustainability inspires hope for a better planet and encourages other organizations to follow suit, nurturing a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.