Depending on the loads on them, disposable products are made of hydraulically resistant filament cloths, of cellulose pulp or of thermally-bonded felt from Spinn-Meltblown fleece. Reusable textiles are mostly made of micro-filament fabrics. Coated laminates are used in the high-performance area. Products of cotton are no longer used in today’s operating room. They no longer meet the safety requirements of the Medical Device Directive.
In direct comparison between disposable materials and reusable textiles, the reusable variants display a much better eco-balance, whereby all processes from production and logistics up to disposal play a role. Exclusive use of disposable materials, for instance, produces significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions than when using reusable products. The result can be put down to the fact that reusable textiles can be used again up to 150 times and manufacturing disposable materials causes significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than washing reusable textiles.
The eutrophication potential of the disposable products is also significantly higher. Whilst the frequent washing processes initially impact the balance of the reusable textiles negatively, far fewer nutrients are fed into water bodies than during the production phase of the disposable products. The same applies to the water consumption: Large quantities of water are needed for the washing processes during the use of reusable textiles. Quite in contrast to the disposable variants, which are disposed of after use. These, however, need much more water in the production than is used for cleaning the reusable textiles.
The biggest advantage of the reusable textiles is the avoidance of waste. Whilst disposable products have to be completely disposed of after use, the reusable variant produces merely packaging waste. This immense reduction in waste alone makes up for the greater use of the fresh water used for the washing process. Overall, reusable textiles in the operating room have a much lower impact on the environment during their entire lifetime.