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Medsalv wins Going Circular Award at NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2019

Published: 29 November 2019

Christchurch-based company, Medsalv, took out the Auckland Council-sponsored Going Circular Award for 2019 at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards last night, from a field of 10 finalists

The award recognises the organisation making demonstrable progress towards ‘going circular’ and creating a step change from our current ‘take-make-waste’ economy towards one where materials are continuously kept in use so that waste and pollution are designed out of the system.  Award-winning Medsalv re-processes single-use medical devices traditionally destined for landfill, reducing waste and costs for New Zealand’s healthcare sector.

Commendations were also awarded to two other Going Circular Award finalists – the Textile Reuse Programme established by The Formary, designed to keep clothing and textile resources out of landfill;  and Takaka company, Stone Arrow Jewellery, which designs, manufactures and sells jewellery created from upcycled materials.

Chair of Auckland’s new Environment and Climate Change Committee, Councillor Richard Hills, presented the award to Medsalv’s founder, Oliver Hunt, at a black-tie ceremony on Auckland’s waterfront.

“Medsalv is quite simply a game changer,” says Councillor Hills.  “What the company has been able to achieve in reducing not only the alarming amount of medical waste we produce in Aotearoa, but also in reducing costs of waste disposal for our hospitals is a true circular economy success story.”

Medsalv's winning circular economy formula

Medsalv’s business model is built on the premise of designing out waste – both physical and financial.  It uses re-usable bags and cartons to collect used single-use medical devices from hospitals, that previously would have been sent straight to landfill.  Following a rigorous inspection and testing routine, the devices are cleaned, repackaged, and sold back to both private and public hospitals across New Zealand at a fraction of the cost of new materials.  Devices that have reached the end of their useful life are recycled.  Additional cost savings are realised by hospitals due to the significant reduction in the amount of waste they send to landfill.

There are wider environmental benefits also achieved with the reduction in the number of medical devices that now need to be produced and imported into New Zealand, leading to carbon emission savings.

“The resource efficiency results are quite astounding,” says Councillor Hills.  “On average, they are achieving five additional uses for each device, which equates to a remarkable 500 per cent efficiency increase.  On top of that, by recycling almost all the devices that have reached the end of their lifecycle, waste to landfill has been reduced by more than 84 per cent.”

Up until now, medical waste has been an issue that has been largely unseen and not widely talked about.  It’s a typical case of out of sight, out of mind. 

“Medsalv’s innovative approach has not only turned a spotlight on the issue but has found a solution to the problem that is a winner on every front,” says Councillor Hills.

“On behalf of Auckland Council, we warmly congratulate the Medsalv team for a well-deserved win and applaud the efforts of the two finalists who received commendations, The Formary and Stone Arrow Jewellery.

“Businesses have a critical role to play in helping Auckland reach its goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040.  Our sponsorship of the Going Circular Award is a way for Auckland Council to encourage the commercial sector to take the lead on tackling waste, as well as recognising and celebrating the success of those companies who are getting out there and helping to put our ambitious vision of a zero-waste future within reach,” says Councillor Hills.

More inspiring circular economy finalist stories

To be inspired by the thought leaders that are working hard to invigorate and grow New Zealand’s circular economy, check out the stories behind the other seven Going Circular Award’s finalists:

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A desire to eliminate the growing environmental and financial waste in New Zealand’s healthcare sector led young engineer, Oliver Hunt, to start Medsalv.