A current research project sponsored by the Alliance for Industrial Research and running until the start of 2016 is working on developing innovative reusable operating theatre textiles which are more comfortable to wear and at the same time more durable because they can be cleaned in a gentler process.
With this project, the wfk - Cleaning Technology Institute eV and the Hohenstein Institute are complying with the requirements of the Closed Cycle and Waste Management Act (KrWG) and also increasing the competitiveness of the German textile industry.
The KrWG, as implemented in the Waste Framework Directive RL 2008/98/EC, has been part of German law since 2012. The reform states that, in order to avoid waste, materials should remain in the production cycle for as long as possible. However, in health care, and especially in hospitals, the trend is in the opposite direction. In the interests of ease of handling, guaranteed sterility at all times and - apparently - cost considerations, the proportion of disposable operating theatre clothing that is used in hospitals is increasing all the time. The resulting waste amounts to about 3.2 kg of textiles per patient per day which have to be disposed of correctly, equating to an annual mountain of waste of about 1200 kg for every hospital bed. Medical textiles such as bed covers and operating theatre clothing are classed as licensed medical products and are subject to all kinds of textile technology requirements under the European DIN EN 13795 standard. These include, for example, mechanical resistance, microbiological purity and a barrier effect against fluids. These numerous standards, designed to ensure the safety of the wearer, mean that the thermophysiological wearing comfort of operating theatre clothing, and especially of disposable clothing, is a secondary consideration.