Blue Wrap Waste Reduction

For decades, surgical blue wrap has helped with the sterilization of medical equipment. This polypropylene plastic often produces excess waste and costs hospitals more time and money than necessary. Some companies have turned to surgical blue wrap recycling to reduce waste, but even sustainable methods create obstacles for hospitals.

If you use blue wrap in your medical facility, you’ve likely experienced these challenges firsthand when sterilizing medical tools. Fortunately, you can improve sterilization efficiency in the workplace while cutting down on medical waste.

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5 Reasons to Not Use Surgical Blue Wrap for Sterilization


Though surgical blue wrap is used frequently in hospitals worldwide, these sterilization solutions can be hard on an establishment’s budget, sterilization processes and the environment. There are five main reasons to avoid using blue wrap in your medical facility.

1. High Medical Waste


Perhaps the most prominent issue with using blue wrap for medical equipment sterilization is the amount of medical waste it generates. Surgical blue wrap is only good for one use before you must discard it, and is creating a blue wrap waste problem for the medical industry as a whole.

Since it isn’t reusable and requires immediate disposal, blue sterilization wrap is a primary source of medical waste in hospitals and medical facilities. In fact, this sterilization solution accounts for 19% of all operating room waste and 5% of hospital waste. With approximately 225 million pounds of blue wrap disposed of annually, it’s clear that this plastic material creates problems for the environment.

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2. Low Cost Efficiency


Surgical blue wrap typically comprises cellulose or polypropylene, making it relatively inexpensive to purchase. Though blue wrap’s initial price seems like a cost-effective solution for health care facilities, its low cost is actually outweighed by the purchase frequency.

Surgical blue wrap is a single-use solution for sterilizing medical equipment, and hospitals must constantly pay to replace it. Even if this material costs less than permanent sterilization solutions, users have to purchase more every time they run out. If you use sterile blue wrap for years, these replacement expenses can quickly add up.

3. Risk of Rips and Tears


Blue wrap is essentially a fabric, making it susceptible to rips and tears during handling and transport. When surgical blue wrap is punctured or torn, it compromises the sterilization process and requires health care professionals to resterilize and rewrap the load.

Ripping often occurs with noncompliant wrap storage, inadequate shelf space and improper handling throughout the processing workflow. With multiple factors that can result in ruptured blue wrap, tears can be challenging to prevent.

Holes in surgical wraps impact hospitals and patients in the following ways:

  • Increased anesthesia times
  • Potential exposure to dangerous pathogens
  • Delayed start times
  • Canceled surgical cases
  • Costly resterilization
  • Last-minute changes in clinical approach
  • Reduced physician satisfaction


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4. Time-Consuming Process


Surgical blue wrap requires time and effort to use. Medical personnel must carefully wrap this material around the instrument case with every use. Due to its bulky structure, blue wrap can also be hard to handle and can easily unwrap. When the fabric comes loose from the case, users must take the time to resterilize and rewrap the case.

5. Recycling Challenges


Some hospitals have attempted to manage medical waste with surgical blue wrap recycling. Though recycling blue wrap is an excellent way to reduce waste, it’s more difficult to do than one might think.

Numerous logistical, economic and infrastructure-related obstacles can get in the way of surgical wrap waste reduction through recycling. For example, blue wrap is too bulky to be economically freighted without baling, and most hospitals don’t have the budget to purchase a baler.

Additional challenges of surgical blue wrap recycling are as follows:

  • Fewer and fewer waste haulers are offering blue wrap pickups due to recycling market difficulties.
  • There is a national shortage of truck drivers, boosting the price of hauling.
  • Operating room staff must receive proper blue wrap segregation training to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • Most hospitals don’t have the room to store sterile blue wrap to achieve minimal load requirements.
  • Recycled resin has undergone devaluing.


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What’s the Best Alternative to Surgical Blue Wrap?


You can engage in surgical wrap waste reduction by replacing your blue wrap with rigid sterilization containers. These reusable case systems are a safe, more eco-friendly alternative to single-use blue wrap, providing all of the following benefits to medical facilities:

  • Years of continuous use
  • Greater cost-efficiency
  • Significant waste reduction
  • Easy transportation
  • No risk of rips or tears
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Innovative design features
  • Customization options


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Sterilize Your Medical Equipment With Sterilization Cases From Jewel Precision Today


You can participate in blue wrap waste reduction by purchasing durable and efficient sterilization containers from Jewel Precision. We’ve served as industry leaders in sterilization tray manufacturing for over 35 years and counting, delivering high-quality autoclave-compatible solutions paired with exceptional customer service, competitive prices and fast lead times.

Browse our sterilization containers or contact us to inquire about a product today!