Pharmafilter International Director Healthcare, Waste, Wastewater and BioBased Biodegradable Platform Solutions
Peter is responsible globally for Pharmafilter business development which incorporates Pharmafilter Plant and System, from design, build and operations in hospitals. He is also responsible for single use disposables personal hygiene and service products. Design, tooling, production, blend and compounding of biodegradable materials for use in the Pharmafilter Plant and System.
Prior to joining Pharmafilter Peter was global sector lead with Telles a Metabolix ADM joint venture. He Specialised in biodegradable applications for agriculture, horticulture, anaerobic digestion, denitrification, pharmaceutical waste and marine.
His commercial background covers over thirty years with seventeen years with Heineken as a senior commercial manager and with Guinness as a commercial strategist.
Peter prescribes to the philosophy: People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
Plenty of easy pickings
Van den Oever makes a clear distinction between four categories. The Wageningen UR research shows that nearly half of the products used are probably already largely fermentable, such as tissues and toilet paper. Additionally, a little under ten per cent – mostly plates, soup bowls and cutlery – is already available in a biobased version but is not being purchased as such. Approximately fifteen per cent, including sheets, bowls, trays and jars currently made from polypropylene, can be made from fermentable materials with minor technical effort should there be sufficient demand. For around 2.5 per cent of the hospital items in Rijnstate, including Velcro, band-aids and suction jars, a biobased version would be a fairly significant challenge, according to the study. The remaining 25 per cent is paper, which is already recyclable.
“This means there are plenty of easy pickings,” says Van den Oever based on the feasibility study. But there are uncertainties as well. “PVC tubes, latex gloves and metal instruments such as scissors, blades and tweezers must be looked at from a new perspective.”
Stimulating the market
In the coming months, Rijnstate will determine which products can be replaced by fermentable versions and what the financial consequences will be. The follow-up project to the study will look at the possibilities of cooperating with other hospitals to increase the volume and stimulate the market. Koster hopes that decisions will be made in the short term, and that construction will start in late 2016 or early 2017. There are six other hospitals also looking to make the transition towards biobased with biobased materials and the Pharmafilter fermenter. In addition to the hospitals in Delft and Arnhem, these include the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and the hospital in Terneuzen.
May 11, 2015
Partly due to a feasibility study by Wageningen UR, the Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem has drawn up a long list of hospital items that can be made from fermentable biobased materials in the future. The waste can be directly shredded in the wards, after which it is deposited in a fermentation tank via the sewers. The innovation generates energy, reduces waste production and improves hygiene and logistics
The bedpan is probably one of the most well-known hospital items. Nursing staff bring the shiny steel bedpans to a washing machine to be cleaned, which requires lots of work, energy, water and cleaning products. If it were up to Marc Koster of the Real Estate department of Rijnstate, things will be very different as of 2017: “We believe that by installing 51 shredders at various locations in the hospital we can shred disposable items and ferment them into biogas at a central location.”
Koster says that in addition to benefitting the environment, there is a good business case for this solution: “We would earn on the investment and see a positive net cash value from day one and have recovered the entire investment within 11 years.” The inspiration for the fermentation process comes from the Reinier de Graaf hospital in Delft, which embraced the concept of the Pharmafilter company in 2012. In Delft, the shredder has for several years been handling ward waste such as meal leftovers, bedpans, blood bags and eating utensils.
Fermenting utensils, bed linens and surgical gowns
The Pharmafilter shredder is called ‘Tonto’, which is Spanish for ‘the fool’. The shredded products are moved to a central unit where solid matter and water are separated. The organic components then go to the fermenter, while indigestible components and conventional plastic end up in a sludge fraction. The watery fraction is purified in a membrane bioreactor, before active carbon and ozone break down any medication r