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Giving old products new life

Like many industries, healthcare is rethinking its relationship with waste. From slow fashion to regenerative agriculture, all sectors play a part in building the circular economy. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines a circular economy as an economy built on three principles: eliminate waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate nature.

Our Health Care Service Center supports the second principle of a circular economy by keeping Solventum health care products in working order, instead of in landfills.

“The more we can do to extend the life of a product, the better we’re able to reduce our environmental footprint,” says Lisa Schmit, service manager for our Health Care Service Center.

The Health Care Service Center supports and repairs more than 50 different Solventum health care products, including clinicians’ treasured instrument, the 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscope. When a customer needs service on a device, they send it to the Health Care Service Center for repair. 

Thinking outside the box

The Health Care Service Center helps extend the life of products—but what happens when a product has reached its last leg? Sherrain Barrett, sales program analyst, designed a procurement program to answer that question.

Here's how it works.

Sales and marketing teams request samples to demo products for customers; some of those products are used on humans, while others are used for demonstration and training purposes only. All products come with a cost and can mean increased spending for the teams who purchase them.

Sherrain realized that products in “disposition”—or distressed and damaged products—ended up in the landfill. Why not repurpose those products instead?  

She started connecting with warehouses and the service center to intercept defunct products. Then, Sherrain reconciled the list of demo needs with the list of scraps, finding a way to get product into the hands of employees while also mitigating waste and spend. 

“It grew into its own monster,” Sherrain laughs. “Now everyone says, ‘before you throw something out, get in touch with Sherrain.’” 

When asked where she got the inspiration for this amazing sustainability win, Sherrain says it’s about thinking outside the box.

“When you’re backed in a corner, you see a window of light.”