How UV-C disinfection can contribute to greener healthcare

Healthcare continues to grow and with it the carbon footprint of healthcare. Serving and caring for people requires a lot of energy and raw materials. For example, the healthcare sector in the Netherlands is responsible for about 8.1% of national CO2 emissions(1). This is quite a high percentage, with room for improvement. The Green Deal Sustainable Care(2) is a one deal, made on October 10, 2018 that aims to counteract this. Healthcare institutions are working on several mitigation measures, such as smarter air treatment in the operating rooms at Leiden University Medical Center. These are badly needed to achieve the stated goal of the Green Deal. Disinfection using UV-C light can help the healthcare sector go green!

The European Green Deal

Green Deal

“Sustainable care for a healthy future.”

As mentioned earlier, the healthcare sector itself is a major polluter. It is important for the entire healthcare industry to make a concerted effort to combat climate and environmental impacts and become greener. Healthcare facilities, healthcare providers, patients and partners need to become aware of this challenge.

In line with government policy, the Dutch healthcare sector is seeking to attain the following targets:

  • Climate crisis: 49% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, and 95% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
  • Circular business practices such as sustainable medical devices, reusables instead of disposables and re-use of plastics.
  • Clearing wastewater of pharmaceutical residues by installing additional treatment steps at sewage treatment plants.
  • Creating a healthy living environment by creating an environment that reduces stress and invites people to engage in healthy behaviour.

Within healthcare, a lot of good steps have already been taken. In the future, UV-C light will serve well in reducing disposables and encouraging the use of re-usables and reuse of plastic to make healthcare greener.

UV-C disinfection technology as a sustainable solution

No single-use materials

Surface disinfection by UV-C light brings the great advantage that no single-use materials are required during the process. UV light must touch the surface to be disinfected in order to kill bacteria and viruses. Additional wipes, containers or liquids are not an issue during the disinfection process. Of course, it is important to provide a product with proper pre-cleaning. This disinfection technique is also suitable for single-use plastics. If you want to know more about the importance of pre-cleaning, read more about this in Is manual cleaning necessary if I use UV-C light?

No water or chemicals needed

In addition, UV-C surface disinfection is a dry method. This means that no water or chemicals are used during the process. The UV-C lamps require only a low amount of power to successfully complete a disinfection cycle. No more production of chemicals, transport of chemicals or filtering of chemicals from the water system. A big and important step to make the medical sector more sustainable and thus greener. The effectiveness of the UV-C light cycle depends on a number of different variables than traditional methods such as amount of chemicals used. The variables of UV-C disinfection are described in more detail in the article Are All UV Products Equally Effective.

Fast and effective

The faster turnaround time using UV-C disinfection technology often results in reduced inventory. In addition to the rapid disinfection cycle, it is possible to carry out the process in the department. This removes a large part of the logistical challenge and reduces the risk of damage during transport. Healthcare institutions effectively need less equipment to treat the same number of patients. Less equipment equals fewer carbon dioxide emissions.


UV-C lamps will need to be replaced by the manufacturer after a set period of time. Make sure maintenance or repairs are always performed by the manufacturer or an approved party. This way you will always know that the product can be used correctly and safely. Read more about safety here: Safe use of UV-C light. UV lamps that are used are easy to recycle. The old lamps can be handed in at the environmental street as small chemical waste. ''Approximately 92% of the raw materials from the lamps are recycled back into new products''(3).

By using UV-C disinfection technology for reusable endoscopes, for example, a hospital can reduce its per-cycle carbon dioxide emissions to up to one-sixth of its former emissions. UV Smart D60 is a perfect example of how we can work together to emit less carbon dioxide without compromising safety or convenience.

Together toward sustainable care