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Public healthcare and plastics makers demonstrate how to remove barriers to PVC-free blood bags in the spirit of REACH (PVCFreeBloodBag)
Start date: Sep 1, 2011, End date: Sep 1, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The presence of PVC in blood bags causes exposure to DEHP plasticiser and PVC plastics during blood transfusions. In an oligopolistic market structure, suppliers have limited incentives to improve their environmental performance. This is particularly true when new innovations compete with their existing products and represent a marginal percentage of their future turnover. Objectives The environmental problem specifically addressed by this project is the lack of incentives among blood bag manufacturers to create PVC-free blood bags. The first objective of the PVCFreeBloodBag project is to demonstrate that public healthcare organisations and private plastics manufacturers can co-operate in removing barriers to a PVC-free blood bag. This innovative policy approach is a response to the EU’s REACH Regulation. If the innovative PVC-free blood bags prove to be too expensive for general use, they will be proposed for use by vulnerable groups. These include pregnant women, premature babies and people with chronic disease. The biggest use of blood bags is for haemodialysis. In the EU there are some 150 000 people that depend on frequent dialysis. The project also aims to offer a material that manufacturers can use to replace PVC in other blood contact applications, as well as in other medical applications. Such applications may use 10 times more PVC than the amount used for blood bags. It will also offer the new material for use in food industry applications; the main source of exposure to DEHP/PVC is from contaminated food. Food contains DEHP derived from environmental contamination and bioaccumulation along the food chain, as well as from leaching during manufacturing, packaging and storage. Expected results: Demonstration of cooperation between public healthcare providers and specialist companies in working to remove barriers (such as the disinterest of major suppliers) to the emergence and uptake of green innovations; The creation and CE accreditation of a prototype PVC-free blood bag, which has been tested in-vitro to ensure suitability for blood storage; Demonstration of the profitability of clinical testing of the PVC-free blood bags; Documented interest in applying the new blood bags from at least 15 organisations in five EU Member States; Demonstrated support for replacing PVC blood bags with the new bags, as well as generally substituting PVC in the medical sector; Achievement of 10% market share for PVC-free blood bags in Europe five years after the project ends.

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