Designing Take-Back for Single Use Medical Devices: The Case of Returpen TM

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2022 Apr 8;19322968221088329. doi: 10.1177/19322968221088329. Online ahead of print.


Focus on take-back of waste products is currently enjoying increased importance, as attention on environmental sustainability and circular economy grows. Single-Use or Disposable Medical Devices (SUDs), which in homecare settings often end up in landfills or incineration, are currently subject to attention, regarding the potential to slow the flow of waste and seek new value creation possibilities. Via a descriptive single-case study of the "ReturpenTM" initiative-a collaborative take-back initiative launched in three municipalities in Denmark-characteristics are elicited, of the planning, launch, and implementation, of the first 6-month pilot of the ReturpenTM initiative. ReturpenTM is a collaborative partnership of 15 public and private organizations and is adopting an end-to-end approach for its development and execution, including numerous professional workstreams. The pilot of the ReturpenTM achieved participation of 66 of the existing 73 pharmacies in 3 municipalities (90% participation rate), and an overall return rate of 13% for the used insulin pens, despite the limitations caused by the covid-19 pandemic. The return rates ranged from 10% to 15% in the 3 municipalities, and overall, the second quarter recovery (15%) was higher than the first quarter (11%). ReturpenTM demonstrates how a workstream-based approach can provide a practical framework for the development and implementation of SUD take-back in a homecare setting. The case describes how the pharmaceutical industry is taking proactive measures to contribute to a more circular economy for disposable medical devices, including the infrastructure and ecosystem necessary to ensure a closed-loop system for medical devices.

Keywords: case study; circular economy; diabetes; insulin pens; single-use medical device; take-back.