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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Surgical instruments and apparatus-Packaging, Pins and needles-Packaging, Packaging-Design, Sustainability, Product life cycle, Life cycle assessment, Packaging, Medical device packaging, Sustainable packaging design


Medtronic is a global health care solutions company that produces and distributes many products, one of which is the Veress needle, which is used for minimally invasive surgery. My Design Clinic team collaborated with Medtronic to improve the Surgineedle, one of their top-selling Veress needles. I extended this project by investigating the packaging of the current 120mm Surgineedle. The medical device industry faces specific challenges in the context of increasing sustainability. Due to stringent regulations and a heavy reliance on single-use devices, the area for the most environmental improvements lies within the packaging sector of medical devices. My investigation was targeted at exploring more environmentally conscious design alternatives and performed a life cycle assessment of various design options that Medtronic could pursue as an alternative to their current packaging. Currently Medtronic is transitioning many of their products from blister packaging to a less material intensive pouch design. Throughout this report I investigate and compare the environmental impacts of this varied designs for the Surgineedle. The scope of this project included a cradle-to-gate assessment, which takes into account the manufacturing and assembly of the packaging materials. Three designs were compared, the current Medtronic packaging, and two alternative pouch packaging designs. The life cycle assessment software SimaPro and its internal database, EcoInvent (Version 3), were utilized to compile the life cycle inventories for each packaging design and to perform the impact assessment comparisons between the three designs. I performed two impact assessments. The first was a Cumulative Energy Demand Impact Assessment that details the total cumulative energy demand and the energy profile of each design. I also performed a TRACI comparison impact assessment of the three possible designs, which assesses the impact each design has on ozone depletion, global warming, smog, acidification, eutrophication, carcinogenics, non carcinogenics, respiratory effects, ecotoxicity, and fossil fuel depletion. Each of these impact assessments concluded that the design that had the highest environmental impacts was the current Medtronic packaging that utilizes the blister design. Alternatively, the design with the smallest environmental impacts was the pouch design that utilizes polypropylene for the plastic pouch. These results provide Medtronic with information on their alternative packaging design options and help to better inform design decisions as they relate to packaging design. In the future, Medtronic can further investigate the different impact assessments and the individual materials that cause the heightened impacts across the various categories. However, these results confirm and provide support for Medtronic’s current transition to pouch designs. In this situation, the environmental impact results align with Medtronic’s motivations that are primarily driven by cost reduction, and ease of transport and storage.




v, 50 pages : color illustrations. Honors project, Smith College, 2106. Includes bibliographical references (pages 20-21) and an annotated literature review (pages 22-25)