Reducing the environmental impact of medical technology at Siemens
22 October 2007
Long before the terms 'climate change' and 'energy
efficiency” were on everyone’s lips, Siemens Medical Solutions was working
hard to systematically improve the impact of its products and systems on
people and the environment. As a result, new computed tomography systems
consume 30% less energy, contain 80% less lead and generate up to 58% less
radiation than previous systems.
assessment has shown that the environmental impact of medical devices is
significantly higher in the usage phase than the manufacturing phase.
A magnetic resonance tomography system (MRT) consumes 88% of its
lifecycle’s energy when in use, while its manufacture and recycling account
for the remaining 12%. The same is true for most other long-lasting
electrical and electronic products. The company, therefore, designs the
systems to have as little negative environmental impact as possible across
the entire lifecycle. This includes all phases, from material selection and
manufacturing, to usage, to recycling.
During a cardiac examination, the
Somatom Definition computed tomography system (CT) generates up to 58% less
radiation, depending on the patient’s pulse rate, with significantly
improved image quality. As a result, the examination is much safer for the
To generate radiation the system requires power, therefore the reduction
in radiation dose not only protects the patient, it saves energy and helps
protect the environment. In a defined standard examination, the CT system
requires 30% less energy than its predecessor.
As result of the lower radiation, the Somatom Definition only
contains 19kg of lead for radiation shielding, compared to 110kg as in the
past — a drop of more than 80%.
Through these improvements, the developers were able to reduce the
environmental impact of production and establish the prerequisites for
reduced energy requirements in the usage phase.
When a user replaces a CT system, the high-performance X-ray tubes are
returned, refurbished in a complicated, quality-assured process and reused
as reconditioned parts.
For its contribution to environmental protection with the Somatom
Definition, in 2006 Med was awarded the international Siemens Environmental
Refurbished medical technology devices receive the 'Proven Excellence'
quality seal for their environmental compatibility. Comprehensive quality
standards apply to all phases of medical technology systems, from
production, to use, to refurbishment and disposal. In accordance with the
comprehensive approach of the European Commission regarding integrated
product policies, the company takes all relevant environmental aspects into
account across the entire product lifecycle.
Refurbishing used systems is
a critical component of the corporate philosophy: extending the lifecycle of
a product saves resources. For example, used computed tomography, magnetic
resonance tomography, ultrasound, radiation therapy and radiography systems
are accepted back, and then refurbished by a separate product group called
Refurbished Systems (RS).
Refurbishment follows a comprehensive, five-stage quality process (device
selection, qualified disassembly, refurbishment process, installation,
warranty against defects) with the same high standards as for new devices.
The systems then leave the factory with the 'Proven Excellence' quality seal
and are sold throughout the world.
RS thereby provides a significant contribution to the environmental
initiative of Siemens. In addition, this comprehensive approach prevents
10,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The savings correspond
to the energy needs of 3000 three-person households per year.
To inform its customers of the
environmental characteristics of medical devices, Siemens has created
product environmental declarations. In the future for example, prior to
purchase, customers will be able to evaluate the follow-up costs produced
when operating Siemens medical devices.
Med worked together with representatives of hospitals and leading medical
technology manufacturers to determine what information the product
environmental declarations had to contain. In the future, whenever a new Med
product comes to market, this brochure will be published at the same time.
It will provide information on materials, energy consumption, radiation
intensity, spare parts consumption and other aspects relevant for decision
making. Product environmental declarations are already available for the
Magnetom Avanto and Espree MRT systems, as well as the Somatom Definition CT
The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
environmental management system of the European Union, called EMAS, has the
world’s strictest requirements. It has been implemented voluntarily at all
Siemens locations in Germany since 1996: every product and work step is
audited periodically. Independent, nationally certified EMAS auditors check
every year whether the environmental protection guidelines are being
maintained at the production facilities.
In addition, the auditors
evaluate whether actual improvements have been achieved in critical
environmental aspects. The environmental auditors also check the
plausibility of the information in the environmental statement that is
The information on environmentally-relevant activities, procedures,
energy and material consumption, hazardous emissions, influence on the
environmental behaviour of suppliers and actions to improve the environment
thereby enjoy a special level of trust.
Siemens Medical Solutions is
following the objective of minimising its environmental impact
internationally. The internal EH&S policy (environmental, health and safety)
and the EH&S management system apply worldwide to all locations and
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