The Environmental footprint of packed red blood cells: a life cycle assessment from donation to disposal

The Environmental footprint of packed red blood cells: a life cycle assessment from donation to disposal


CIA: Professor Bernd Froessler

Project summary

A sustainable health care system is achieved by delivering high quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing ecological damage. Like all sectors of the economy, the healthcare sector in Australia and New Zealand needs to move to a more sustainable model by actively reducing its environmental impact and carbon emissions. Subsequently, there are a multitude of processes and clinical pathways in healthcare that require environmental assessment.
The investigators will conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) (cradle to grave) to determine the environmental footprint of a producing a unit of Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBC). The study is purely observational, with no changes to patient activity.
The scope of the LCA will include all significant material and energy inputs from the time of blood donation to the administration of blood to a patient. Inputs will include raw material production, manufacturing, packaging, transport, use, and end-of-life (clinical waste, landfill, and recycling). The production of a unit of RBC will be subdivided into donor travel, donation, separation/fractionation, transportation, storage, laboratory testing, and delivery to the patient.

This study will provide valuable information regarding the environmental impact of PRBCs. Understanding the environmental footprint of PRBCs will provide further motivation to improve the appropriate use of blood products and reduce any associated waste. Further, this study will provide a detailed analysis of both the location and extent of environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas, particulate matter emissions, and water use, meaning any mitigation strategies can be focused on those processes that have the highest environmental burden.

Chief investigators

Professor Bernd Froessler, Lyell McEwin Hospital, South Australia
Associate Professor Forbes McGain, Western Health, Melbourne
Dr Owen Tomasek, Northeast Health, Wangaratta Victoria.
Technical lead: Dr Scott McAlister, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney.


The project was awarded $A45,610 through the ANZCA research grants program for 2023.   

Last updated 16:20 18.01.2024