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Diabetes and Waste: The Perspective of People With Diabetes

The best way to manage waste is to avoid producing it in the first place. But that’s easier said than done nowadays. Over-packaging—is everywhere and makes up a significant proportion of waste. Reusable or sustainable products can also be hard to come by. 

Environmentally conscious people who have type 1 diabetes (T1D) may worry about the waste generated by their treatment. 

How important are packaging waste and product sustainability (or product life) to people living with diabetes? Do these considerations come into play when they decide which devices to use?
 

A recent online survey conducted in Germany asked these questions to over 2,400 people living with diabetes (mostly type 1).

A majority of respondents expressed concern

Over half (54.5%) of survey respondents said they were concerned with the packaging waste generated by their diabetes treatment and technology. These products do generate a significant volume of waste, and knowing how to dispose of it can be complicated.

Opting for reusable products

Although people living with diabetes are clearly concerned with the waste produced by their treatment, not many companies offer reusable products. Yet, based on the survey results, approximately 2 out of 3 people (67.1%) would like to have access to more reusable devices for diabetes care.

Impact on consumer choices still limited

Despite these evident concerns, waste and sustainability seem to have little influence on decisions about diabetes devices or treatment, according to the survey.

Nonetheless, even though these considerations are taken into account by only a small proportion of people (15%), it still represents almost 1 out of 5 people.

Because diabetes care is crucial to staying healthy and there is often no treatment or technology alternative with a lower environmental impact, people living with diabetes struggle to reduce waste even when they would like to. 

Manufacturers of diabetes medications and supplies have a major role to play in the green transition. They should heed the concerns expressed by growing numbers of consumers and offer more sustainable solutions. 

People living with diabetes and healthcare professionals should not hesitate to discuss their concerns with company representatives (in person or by calling customer services) to spur change.

Reference:

  • LUTZ HEINEMANN, DOMINIC EHRMANN, TIMM ROOS, NORBERT HERMANNS, BERNHARD KULZER; 591-P: Green Diabetes: What Do People with Diabetes Think about Packaging Waste and Sustainability?. Diabetes 1 June 2022; 71 (Supplement_1): 591–P. https://doi.org/10.2337/db22-591-P

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