The Digital Supply Chain podcast

Reducing waste in medical supply chains with the circular economy - a chat with Lifecycle Revive's Andy Straisfeld

May 31, 2021 Tom Raftery / Andy Straisfeld Season 1 Episode 135
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
Reducing waste in medical supply chains with the circular economy - a chat with Lifecycle Revive's Andy Straisfeld
Show Notes Transcript

The Covid 19 pandemic has seen a massive increase in the amount of PPE being used by both healthcare professionals, and by the general public. Much of this is discarded after use and goes straight to landfill.

Lifecycle Revive want to fix that. They have come up with a way to take this medical waste, convert it to plastic pellets, and then use those pellets back into PPE once again. What a phenomenal initiative.

I invited Andy Straisfeld, Lifecycle Revive's VP of Business Development to come on the podcast to tell me all about it and he did not disappoint.

We had an excellent conversation and, as is often the case, I learned loads, I hope you do too...

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

To learn more about how Industry 4.0 technologies can help your organisation read the 2020 global research study 'The Power of change from Industry 4.0 in manufacturing' (https://www.sap.com/cmp/dg/industry4-manufacturing/index.html)

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Andy Straisfeld:

We went to ev ry possible group and say, Lo k, how do we fit in your world? nd how do you fit in ours? And ow can we help each other? And i 's a collective approach. An I really think that if when CO ID ends, this could be like I sa d, some of the tone of y ur previous episodes is the fut re postpo

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain. And I'm your host, global vice president SAP. Tom Raftery. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, with SAP and with me on the podcast today, I've got my special guest, Andy. Andy, would you like to introduce yourself?

Andy Straisfeld:

Thanks, Tom. My name is Andy streatfeild. I'm the VP of business development for life cycle revive here in fabulous Ontario, Canada, and we process PE and medical waste and turn it back into viable products, like gowns and masks the stuff that we're recycling. So it's a circular economy business? Well, I mean,

Tom Raftery:

so much to say, Andy, so much just say really, because this is this is such a great, a great venture, I think. And it's of its time, this is not something that I think would have occurred to anyone to do, let's say 1618 months ago. But obviously now, with the advent of COVID, there's far more medical waste around. And we've seen these horrible images of, you know, masks on beaches and floating in the water and stuff. So there's no need for me to ask you, but I'm gonna ask you anyway, what led you to start this business?

Andy Straisfeld:

You know, I was a medical sales rep for 15 years here in Canada, in North America. And in the last seven, I've worked for a company that had a viable, sustainable sustainability plan. And when you go and you sell a mask or a gown to a hospital, it's always well, I'm going to go with the cheaper one, I'm going to go with a better price to mine. And then the thing is, you say okay, but do you know that with a sustainability plan that we have, you can actually get money back? This is what what? And then it's like, yeah, and you know, you can actually save the environment. Oh, I like that. And you start talking about it, and then you get them. enthused about it. And then so as we as I kept selling, and I kept working the the magic you would call it, I started loving the product, I say, Hey, I'm proud of selling a mask. And again, I'm not I'm not somebody who's killing the environment, or somebody who's like actually doing something beneficial. So I said, I would really like to take a shot at growing this in Canada, and then COVID hit. And then what happened was that we were sidelined because the the US Canada Border closed. And the President of the day decided that the world should not get medical products. And I'm not, I'm not on a soapbox here, I'm just stating the facts. So when you're not selling anything, people started calling. And I says, Well, we want to start making masks out of sterile wrapping. We want to make gowns out of out of this. And I said as long as you're recycling. I says, You know, I can advise you go ahead and do it. So then somebody one day called me and said, Hey, can you come by on the weekend? Take a look at my factory and, you know, can you help me with any ideas? And then I saw piles and piles of like this loose polypropylene fabric just pile they were piling up in black garbage bags. I said what are you doing with this done this? We're gonna throw in the garbage. I said no, no, no, no. I said let me call somebody. So I called the plastics recycler, who we worked with at our at our company said, Look, can you handle loose scrap? He said, sure I can. And so what happened was, it was like, getting a band together. I got I got the manufacturer to talk to the recycler the recycler to talk to a distributor talk to me. And by the end of the year, we had created this whole venture. And then the Prime Minister of Canada put out this very dire thing that 65,000 tons of new medical waste was going to go into the landfills and we really need somebody step up. And I said to my partner, I said, Okay, well, you've been taking medical waste to take the scrap, can you take masks says sure we can, you know, and so said, okay, we could do it. So we reached out to the government said, Listen, we need some funding, and we'll be very happy to help you, you know, avert this crisis. And that's, that's where it was. So I ended up quitting my job. I ended up being unemployed for about three days. And then my partner said, Hey, listen, you've got us in this trouble. Why don't you come join us? And here we are.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. Fantastic. So how does it work? I mean, obviously, the government had lots of waste, but I mean, that's that's, that's a finite amount, even though it's a large amount. But you know, that's going to run out and then you have to get more to do more recycling to produce more masks and so on. How are you filling that pipeline?

Andy Straisfeld:

So prior to COVID, the number one business that we were in meeting we me being the seller of the product and the recycler being the recycler The product was, they could always count on millions of pounds of sterile rap or surgical gowns or surgical drapes coming out of the hospital. Most people don't realize that in a country 80% of waste comes from the hospital. The first the first person is the food stuff, the cafeteria, right, then 80% of that comes from the operating room and it only comes from before the patient ever comes in. So this is clean plastic, we're talking about plastic bottles to fill the basins, the gowns, the the the drapes that they don't use and the sterile wraps to wrap the packaging. So all this is clean. And it's thrown into a clear bag thrown onto the hallway, then taken down to a loading dock where they're either going to recycle with a recycler, or they're going to throw it all in the garbage. So now you have this new Cataclysm, this new 65,000 million tons of stuff going on top of it. So what what is done? Is that you you target? I'm sorry, I think I lost track of the question. But ideally speaking, our primary business was always the hospital. And then now that you have masks now that you have disposable gowns, now that you have excess waste for manufacturers, now that you actually have retailers who actually bought too much foreign stuff, and are trying to sell it off for pennies on the dollar, because they just want to get it out. Now you have this this the stockpile waste? So there's enough to keep people running trust me there is Yeah,

Tom Raftery:

okay. What about, you know, I, like a load every week, every weekend, probably go to the pharmacy, stock up on new masks for the following week, for myself and my family. And you know, I'm sure all my neighbors are doing the same, all their neighbors are doing the same and so on, is there any way to gather up that kind of waste from you know, the likes of myself and neighbors and so on. Obviously, not here in Spain, you're based in Canada, but you get my point.

Andy Straisfeld:

But you know, you could do it in Spain. And that's that's what we're trying to empower, empower the world to do this. So we've copy, you know, they say that mimicry is the ultimate form of flattery type of thing. So we've met terracycle, which is a very famous worldwide company, and they sell a box and they sell you a box and you put all your masks in the box and the box is full. There's a sticker on it though prepaid shipping label, and they'll ship it to the local facility. So I assumed that terracycle must be in Europe. And if that's the case, or maybe one day, our box will be there. Who knows. But that's what we've done is we've we've taken our box, we've put it in English in French, two official languages of Canada. And we're offering it a little cheaper than terracycle, or the other companies and we're saying, Look, guys just fill the box with masks, and just send it to me, that's the most simplest way of doing things like so we've talked to municipal governments to have these boxes encased in a plastic bin next to a beach or next to a park or next to a forest, you know, and then we hope that human beings are not as predictable as we think. And then and they will actually try to throw the mask into the box rather than beside the and then the same thing with retail, you know, we go to retail stores and say, Look, have a box outside, outside your store, or at least a couple of in the malls. You know, we go to healthcare, so you have some in your hospitals or in a dentist office, or in your or your doctor's office or your chiropractor or massage therapy, wherever. So we're trying to branch out everywhere we can go and say if you don't even want to buy my box, then do your own box, put a label on it and ship it to my factory go to my website, get my address. So I think we're empowering a lot of people to say look in your community. And then in your in your your country. And then in your continent, the three C's, community, country continent, do that. And I think you will be ahead of the game in this situation.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, and this waste coming in, in these boxes doesn't have to be treated as a biohazard. See, okay,

Andy Straisfeld:

I am not I am not allowed to make a comment of stuff based on the scientific papers that I've read. And based on on on people speaking educated Lee on online and offline, the flu COVID, whatever it is, is an aerosol based or it's or it's a liquid based thing. But once it hits a surface, it dies within room temperature, it dies within hours. So if I'm wearing so most of these companies that have a box system, what they do is they throw the stuff in the box and then they put the box aside for a week. And then they say, okay, it's been sitting and stewing for a week, it's dead. Okay, but what we do is we've actually invested in disinfection line. So essentially, it's not a biohazard. If you figure that you pick up dirty clean X's from your, your own household or dirty diapers or whatever it is, it's almost as bad as that but like I said, if I'm wearing a mask, and I handle it with a glove, and I don't put it in In my towards my face and sniff it or whatever it is, I'm not going to contract anything and then I'll just get rid of the glove at the same box or whatever it may be. Now, with that said, some people feel cautious. While you know, governments say, Well, you can't throw that in recycling, gotta throw in the garbage. Okay, so what you're doing is you're perpetuating the problem, you could throw it in recycling, and then take it to a recycling facility where a guy like me will show up in with a truck to pick up all the boxes, or all the bags. But what you're doing is you're putting in a garbage bag and you're sending it to landfill. Now, once it gets landfill, how am I going to get it out? I'm gonna have to break up with those bags and go through your pasta, and go through your lunch and find the mask, which I don't really want to do. So at the end of the day, it's just, I think it's a mind shift change. And we're trying to educate so some, some city governments in Canada have actually come to grips with this and said, Okay, listen, if we can find a safe way of doing it, that's not going to jeopardize somebody's health. Let's try it look at it. So we've looked at some school boards. We've looked at subsidy governments, we've looked at some federal government offices, who are saying we're willing to try this idea. And hopefully, it will permeate from there, it will go somewhere. Super,

Tom Raftery:

super. And is it you know, is it any kind of mask gown glove, and the other thing,

Andy Straisfeld:

right now it's anything disposable, like we don't, we don't handle reusable fabric gowns and stuff like that, you know, fabric can be washed and reused, anything disposable, any of the stuff that that has been made. Now through the COVID era, you know, North America's is actually very, is very disadvantaged in the way because they relied on polypropylene plastic, number five plastic if you if you know the triangles were one through five, but six. But there was so many creative people making polyethylene and low density poly and high density Paul and all types of polyethylene. So this is no. So what we've done is we've figured out that we could process it, as some other recyclers on the planet have realized that they can recycle it. So now it's we're picking up the stuff but like it would have been a tragedy, because what's going to happen is the wall I don't know what's polyethylene, what's polypropylene. So we're not going to recycle it. But now we've pretty much figured out Look, we can take it all. All of us can all across this planet, we can take it, just give it to us and we'll and we'll be fine.

Tom Raftery:

And what's the process once you get it,

Andy Straisfeld:

so it's beautiful, like, so I'm very excited about this because it's it's it's something that's never been done before it's you take, you put it through a disinfection tunnel, you sort it, you cut out Okay, so in the case of masks, you cut out the aluminum and the loops, you're left with the fabric, that fabric and all the other fleece fabric, hospital fabric, plastic bottles, all this beautiful stuff gets thrown into a gigantic mulcher machine that crushes 3500 pounds of plastic an hour and then spits the exact amount of pellets on the other side. And those pellets get shipped out to anybody who wants them to make stuff with either make, you know, make basins, garbage bins, or in our case, we're gonna make surgical fabrics. So we're gonna make surgical gowns we're gonna make masks. So again, circular economy for us, but you know, it's funny. A lot of people don't realize this, but about a month and a half ago, there was a snowstorm in Texas. Yep. And crippled the plastic resin manufacturing industry. And for years big oil, big plastic, you know, I'm not I'm not a I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But that's what we call them. They kept saying all you can use recycled, you can use rust, it's got to be virgin. It's got to be right from the tap, you know, right from the oil. And it's like, okay, now, people call me people are calling people all over this world. Hey, you got any resin? I'll take, I'll take recycled resin.

Tom Raftery:

I'll take anything you got.

Andy Straisfeld:

So I said. So I said, Okay, so the lie has been exposed. So that means we could just turn out these plastic resin pellets from recycled stuff, and everyone's going to buy it. And they want it and they're going crazy for it. So yeah, it's, it's it's a beautiful time. It's like, it's the Age of Reason.

Tom Raftery:

Because Yeah, for the longest time, you heard of a plastics not being recycled, but being down cycled. But that's you're saying that's no longer necessary that you can just keep recycling.

Andy Straisfeld:

See here in Canada, we have, we have three we have three streams, and it's us and others like us, who will actually grind it down, turn it into pellets and the pellets can be made into something then you have the the biofuel people who will take all this stuff and turn it into biofuel, and then you have the others who just don't care. They just landfill it or whatever it is, or what they'll do is they will experiment like right now there's some universities here in Canada who are experimenting grinding it down and turning it into construction based stuff like fillers for concrete. So it's not a rebar up use plastic. So there's some ingenious ways of doing that like plastic lumber for benches and stuff. You know, they're they're doing this type of stuff. So now, like you're saying, you have this competition, do we want to eliminate biofuel? Or do we want to endorse it? And some people say that biofuels environmentally bad as opposed and we should just, you know, continue to make stuff out of plastic and not do that. Others are the other way. So yes, it's not downstream as much anymore because now it could be upstream. Okay, cool.

Tom Raftery:

Well, Too from here?

Andy Straisfeld:

Well, you know, it's this is a, it's an exciting time, like I said, it's, it's, it's an enlightenment of any sort. And the funny thing is I've been listening to some to your episodes, and there were some really good points that were made early on. And one of them is, you know, we want to tackle supply chain. You know, as a former medical sales rep, I don't want to criticize supply chain, but part of the reason COVID hit us really bad was that supply chain did not understand the concept, right. And now, believe it or not, they are actually the partners that we want to partner with. In this type of situation, because they've learned their lesson, I'll give an example. And I'm not not trying to expose my world. But when I was a rep, I would go to a hospital twice a year, to offer a pandemic sale to a hospital or medical group. And I would say you get the product at a reduced price, you'll get some product for free, I will rotate your stock, I will make this as easy as possible. And I will take away your your expired products. And the answer was 80% 90% of time, not interested. Okay, we don't have room, we're not interested, you know, we whatever, okay, fine. And then COVID hit, and now all of a sudden is like, we got five years worth of expired product on haul, because we didn't do anything. Because nobody, you know, we turned out all these opportunities, you know, because you know, we just didn't, we weren't aware of what we were saying to these people. So now it's like, Hey, you can take my stuff, you can recycle my stuff, you can give me some money back. And you can give me new product. So yeah, so why don't we work together instead of against each other at these types of things. So that's what that's what I'm really enjoying now is that we're moving in a different direction. So where healthcare is one thing, and the retail and public is another thing. Now we're going to general supply chain across automotive, foodstuffs, aviation textiles, we're going to every possible group and say, Look, how do we fit in your world? And how do you fit in ours? And how can we help each other. And it's a collective approach. And I really think that if when COVID ends, this could be like, like I said, some of the tone of the previous episodes is the future of post COVID. It will be a more collaborative thing. I really hope we don't ignore each other and go back to the old ways of doing things. But I really feel confident that I think we have built an idea that we can work together to make sure that we don't get crippled together down the road when COVID 32 shows up or whatever.

Tom Raftery:

Cool. Cool. And we're coming towards the end of the podcast now. Is there. Is there anything I've not asked you that you wish I had? Or is there any topic we've not addressed that you've you know, you think it's important for people to think about or be aware of?

Andy Straisfeld:

Well, I think the the key The key is, what was the success? You know, by myself? No, I think we did it as a team. And I want to shout out to you for allowing these opportunities to have these types of shows, like I said, that I've been I've been very motivated by a lot of the episodes I've heard, thank you. And like I said, I want to I want to shout out to you know, to, you know, Kurt Staley, who's our our plastics guy who actually opened up his factory to us, Lena bow and then permanet young who, who, at the outset of COVID, had won a contract with our colleague that halabi, who's the money guy, and they put it together, they they were smart about it, like they saw by mid summer, we got to do something, or we're gonna kill this environment. And then they put this together. And then they I was like, like I said, I was I was out of the picture. And they brought me in at the end, and I really appreciative, but I'm very appreciative of all the people who are stepping up right now, like in industry, people who are willing to look at a new paradigm, who are motivated to make a better world than what we have today. So like I said, I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity for your, for your masses to hear the message. And if they are interested, please leave let them contact us and let them be partners with us. We're, we're looking to do this worldwide revolution, where we'll share the secret formula will tell you exactly what needs to be done. Let's just do it, you know, because then at least we're gonna feel good about it. And then like I said, this is a whole new green economy. This is a whole new green industry. And and I'm actually looking for more green entrepreneurs. Because, you know, you know, we've had, we've had the the robber barons who made their fortunes and we've had the new the new age Elon Musk's here, who are taking us to space and taking us into different currencies. Now we need people to take us into different environmental products that will, you know, hopefully stem the destruction of this planet, but actually extend this planet until we can actually build the ships to go to the next galaxy because we don't really want to rush building ships and leave this planet at this time. But that's a Star Trek theory of mind. And we'll go another day, another another show.

Tom Raftery:

And if people want to know more, if they want to partner with you, if they want to reach out and get in touch, what's the best way for them to do so?

Andy Straisfeld:

So The best way to reach me is through our website lifecycle revive all one word.ca. I'm also on LinkedIn on Twitter, you can find me by my name Andy stray swelled to all one word. In Twitter and LinkedIn, we also have a life cycle revive LinkedIn and Twitter page as well. I would say that I would give my cell number but I never take long distance calls. So at this point, that's the best way to reach me. There's a contact information form on the website, which actually comes to my phone. So I then answer every email and every inquiry myself. So that is super,

Tom Raftery:

super hard. And it has been brilliant. Thanks a million for coming on the show today. Thanks, Tom. I really do appreciate it. Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to sa p.com slash digital supply chain or, or simply drop me an email to Tom raftery@sap.com. If you'd like to show, please don't forget to subscribe to it and your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.