Is single use biotech equipment the more sustainable option?

How can single use in biotech be sustainable, if you think of all the waste it creates? This might raise questions regarding the environmental impact. Let’s compare the complete life cycle of single-use systems such as tubing, capsule filters, chromatography devices, and bioreactors to their multi-use counterparts in glass or stainless steel and look at the outcome.

Is single use biotech equipment the more sustainable option?

The end-of-life impact of single use tech

A product life cycle assessment compared single-use technologies to traditional multi use systems on points like resource extraction, processing, manufacturing, all through the end of the product life. Additionally environmental impact factors such as carbon, energy and water footprint were evaluated to paint a complete sustainable picture. Although disposal and waste remains a concern, the study found that this was actually only 1% of the total impact on the environment. Once put into use single use equipment presented a significantly lower impact resulting in a smaller overall end-of-life impact.

Single use eliminates the need for cleaning in between batches

The most pressing finding is that the impact of chemicals, high purity waters and heat for cleaning and sterilization in between production batches is very high. Take for example a single use bioreactor as shown in the video below; No need for extensive cleaning before the culture is started or after it’s finished and reducing the risk of cross contamination. Innovative technology such as 3D printing allows to create customizable products, while (re)creating exact replicas and keep desired process environments steady. Now officially stated as the more sustainable choice makes us understand why single systems are on the rise.