Health Affairs, VOL. 39, NO. 12 : CLIMATE & HEALTH, ANALYSIS. Andrea J. MacNeill, Harriet Hopf, Aman Khanuja, Saed Alizamir, Melissa Bilec, Matthew J. Eckelman, Lyndon Hernandez, Forbes McGain, Kari Simonsen, Cassandra Thiel, Steven Young, Robert Lagasse, and Jodi D. Sherman. AFFILIATIONS PUBLISHED: DECEMBER 2020
A circular economy involves maintaining manufactured products in circulation, distributing resource and environmental costs over time and with repeated use. In a linear supply chain, manufactured products are used once and discarded. In high-income nations, health care systems increasingly rely on linear supply chains composed of single-use disposable medical devices. This has resulted in increased health care expenditures and health care–generated waste and pollution, with associated public health damage. It has also caused the supply chain to be vulnerable to disruption and demand fluctuations. Transformation of the medical device industry to a more circular economy would advance the goal of providing increasingly complex care in a low-emissions future. Barriers to circularity include perceptions regarding infection prevention, behaviors of device consumers and manufacturers, and regulatory structures that encourage the proliferation of disposable medical devices. Complementary policy- and market-driven solutions are needed to encourage systemic transformation.