Smart Syringes – A sustainable global health solution.


1) Sustainability problem: Reuse of syringes. Area: Health

  • The reuse of syringes has been a global health challenge ever since immunization and vaccines have become the norm.
  • In the developing world, where there are lax regulations regarding the reuse of medical equipment and lack of access to further resources, it estimated that about 6.7 billion out of 16 billion injections are done using reused equipment.
  • Needle reuse contributed to the infection of up to 1.7 million people with hepatitis B, up to 315,000 with hepatitis C and up to 33,800 with HIV in 2010.
  • Although the regions most affected by this issue are Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, there are thousands of people who are at risk of infection due to needle reuse in the U.S.

2)  Technology

  • The SmartSyringe is a fail-safe, single hand operated syringe that contains a passive spring which helps retract the needle after use.
  • The retractive action can be controlled with an option of full automatic retraction.
  • Once the needle holder is pulled back, the entire syringe is interlocked, immobile and inoperable. It is not possible to re-use and must be disposed of to be recycled.




3) Stakeholders

  • Populations in developing nations at high risk of needle reuse
  • Governments
  • Healthcare facilities and practitioners
  • Non-profit and international organizations

4) Deployment 

  • The sustainability problem and technology must be understood by healthcare workers, policy-makers, and governing organizations who must then put in place policy mandating the use of this technology.
  • Manufacturers need to be regulated and required to switch to this design.
  • Public awareness campaigns need to be run to educate people about the issues of needle reuse and the importance of smart syringes.

 UNI – jv2610


A Greener Cremation

Sustainability Problem

  • The environmental impact of a “full service” burial is significant; including the resources for the concrete vaults, steel and timber for caskets, and the annual use of over 800,000 gallons of carcinogenic formaldehyde in the US alone.
  • Cemeteries have very little space for native plant or animal life.
  • Cremation causes less environmental impact than burial, however the process releases an average of 532 pounds of CO2 per body and other toxic gases into the atmosphere.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 56 Million people die worldwide (2012).

Summary of the technology

  • The process of Alkaline Hydrolysis was patented by Amos Hebert Hobson in 1888, however it has only recently been used by the funeral industry.
  • The body is introduced into a pressurized steel chamber, where a solution of water, salt and potash creates an alkali solution to decompose the body organically. The solution is heated to 350 degrees and dissolves soft tissues in 2-3 hours.
  • Once the body has been decomposed, the sterile waste is safely disposed into the sewer system. The remaining skeleton is crushed into ash.
  • The process takes longer than flame-based cremation, however it uses less energy and emits no CO2.


  • Funeral home operators
  • Cemeteries
  • Producers of caskets, formaldehyde, and other funeral-related products
  • The environment
  • The bereaved


  • The cost of an alkaline hydrolysis unit is approximately $150,000, which is almost double the cost of an energy efficient flame-based cremation unit; costs are anticipated to come down with wider-scale implementation.
  • Depending on the funeral home the cost of the green alternative can run as high as 3 times a flame-based cremation, but it can be less expensive than full service burials.
  • This process is only legal in 13 US states and 3 Canadian provinces, however due to the environmental benefits other states, including New York and California, are considering legalizing it.