A life cycle assesment (LCA) on behalf of the textile services industry has found that reusable surgical gowns provide a significant improvement in energy, environmental footprint, water, and energy-associated emissions. In addition, reusable gowns offer an 83% reduction in waste stream.
The study commissioned by the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA), Shawnee Mission, KS/USA, and the International Association for Healthcare Textile Management (IAHTM), Powell, OH/USA, was conducted by Environmental Clarity, Inc., Glen Allen, VA/USA, and compared the life cycle of reusable versus disposable surgical gowns.
The study found that choosing reusable isolation gowns instead of disposable alternatives decreases the environmental footprint by:
• 64% lower natural resource energy consumption,
• 66% lower greenhouse gas emissions,
• 87% lower total water consumed,
• 83% lower solid waste generation at healthcare facility.
The reusable and disposable gown systems were compared on a cradle-to-end-of-life basis. The starting point for analysis was natural resources in the earth, such as fossil materials and ores. The entire supply systems required to manufacture a final surgical gowns and packaging were included. The use phase included laundry and wastewater treatment for reusable gowns and sterilization for all gowns.