Is Aquacel biodegradable? (5 do’s & 3 don’ts of using Aquacel)

This article discusses the following aspects of Aquacel other than covering the biodegradability aspect of Aquacel:

  • Eco-friendliness and sustainability
  • Proper usage and disposal
  • Do’s and Don’ts
  • Any alternatives

Is Aqucel biodegradable?

Yes, aquacel is biodegradable but a few things need to be considered. As a product, Aquacel is biodegradable and safe to use as it is made of hydrofibres which upon contact with water form a gel known as Aquagel which is completely safe for the environment and all life forms.

The problem lies in the fact that Aquacel is a product that is used to heal wounds and for other forms of treatment which involves contact with the patient’s blood and other bodily fluids which it absorbs to keep that part dry. This is what makes it a complicated product which cannot be thrown as other products.

The blood or pus absorbed by Aquacel may contain harmful viruses and germs which may pose a health risk to workers and the community which is why it is also recommended in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of Convatec, the company which manufactures Aquacel that it must not be thrown in the trash, waterways etc.

Still, the product qualifies as a safe product for the environment due to the fact that the product itself is biodegradable which makes it safe for the environment. 

Is it sustainable?

Yes, it is a sustainable product. Aquacel is made of hydrofibres which form hydrogels. Hydrofibre is mostly made of natural polymers that can easily be sourced from plants and animals and are made of polysaccharides and proteins with glycosidic linkages.

Hydrofibres are low-cost materials and require very less energy to manufacture and use those materials which are abundantly available in the ecosystem. 

There are multiple benefits of using Aquacel in terms of sustainability, the product itself is a sustainable product but in addition, it indirectly reduces the use of many unsustainable products. It has proven to be extremely good at healing wounds and keeping them safe from infection. These properties mean less unsustainable products will be used.

The concern regarding the energy consumption during the production of Aquacel couldn’t be addressed as Convatec did not reveal the details regarding the energy consumption during manufacture. 

However, multiple sources indicate that manufacturing hydrofibres is an energy-intensive product but the sustainability of Aquacel in terms of energy consumption can only be established or rejected if the details of the energy consumption are revealed.

Although It is a thumb rule that companies which are environmentally conscious would advertise it proudly and those who do not do so will keep quiet. Convatec does not reveal the details about energy consumption so it might be possible that it may not be sustainable in terms of energy.

Overall, as discussed at the start, the product qualifies as a sustainable product after weighing the pros and cons as there is no clear evidence regarding the unsustainability of the product. 

How to properly dispose of it?

Aquacel is a medical product and must be treated as such. It means that it cannot be thrown directly into trash cans, waterways or landfills. The reasons for this have been discussed earlier Aquacel is safe as a product but due to its use for wound protection and healing, it increases the risk of contamination.

The Safety Data Sheet of Aquacel indicates that it must be disposed of in a proper facility where it needs to be incinerated along with other medical products so that any harmful microorganisms cannot escape into the environment. 

How to properly use it sustainably?

The proper way of using Aquacel is to consider two things before buying one:

  1. Buy the proper size as it’s not “One size fits all”, the wound size may vary and with that, the size of Aquacel should be accordingly. 
  2. Buy the proper version of Aquacel that targets your needs. Aquacel Ag with added silver is meant for wounds that are more exposed and are prone to infection but with wounds which require skin regeneration, normal Aquacel would suffice.

The thing about using Aquacel on your wounds is that they should be applied properly as advised by the manufacturer and care should be taken throughout so that it does not get damaged. There are multiple demonstrations available on how to properly apply Aquacel. Proper usage reduces consumption and adds to less wastage and sustainability.

What are do’s and don’ts? (5 do’s & 3 don’ts)

Do’s: 

  • Before applying the dressing, cleanse the wound area with an appropriate wound cleanser.
  • Aquacel Ag should overlap 1cm ( ½ inch) onto the skin surrounding the wound.
  • When using Aquacel Ag ribbon in cavity wounds, leave at least 2.5cm (1 inch) outside the wound for easy retrieval.
  • This primary dressing should be used with a secondary cover dressing. Apply the dressing to the wound and cover it with a moisture-retentive dressing, foam dressing, gauze, or other appropriate dressing. See individual cover dressing package inserts for complete instructions for use.
  • All wounds should be inspected frequently. Remove the Aquacel Ag when clinically indicated (i.e., leakage, excessive bleeding, increased pain) or after a maximum of seven days.

Don’ts

  • Do not dispose of it in a regular trash can
  • Do not change if the fluid is visible
  • Do not use without consultation in case of bigger wounds

Are there any Greener alternatives?

Currently, Aquacel is the best option available in the market in terms of eco-friendliness and sustainability and there are no greener alternatives.

When we talk about greener alternatives of a product, it essentially means that we are looking for something that has the same benefits but is more eco-friendly. The thing about Aquacel is that we have better and green alternatives but they are no match for the usefulness of Aquagel and it has proven to be a very good product.

The fact that Aquacel itself is a sustainable product as discussed earlier leaves it as the best option currently available on the market.

Conclusion

Aquacel is a very good product with multiple benefits and it is a biodegradable and sustainable product but due to the fact that it is a medical product so it cannot be thrown out directly in the trash or waterways. Still, it is a one-of-a-kind product and until its greener alternative is figured out, it is the best option available.

References

  • Daristotle, J. L., Lau, L. W., Erdi, M., Hunter, J., Djoum Jr, A., Srinivasan, P., … & Kofinas, P. (2020). Sprayable and biodegradable, intrinsically adhesive wound dressing with antimicrobial properties. Bioengineering & translational medicine, 5(1), e10149.
  • Coutts, P., & Gary Sibbald, R. (2005). The effect of a silver‐containing Hydrofibre® dressing on superficial wound bed and bacterial balance of chronic wounds. International Wound Journal, 2(4), 348-356.
  • Hydrofibre Technology. Retrieved from https://www.convatec.com/advanced-wound-care/hydrofibre-technology/
  • Verbelen J, Hoeksema H, Heyneman A, Pirayesh A, Monstrey S. (2014). Aquacel(®) Ag dressing versus Acticoat™ dressing in partial thickness burns: a prospective, randomized, controlled study in 100 patients. Part 1: burn wound healing. Burns: Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries. 2014 May;40(3):416-427. DOI: 10.1016/j.burns.2013.07.008. PMID: 24045072.
  • A patient’s guide to Aquacel surgical dressing. Retrieved from https://www.uhcw.nhs.uk/ Safety Data Sheet of Aquacel. Retrieved from https://safety365.sevron.co.uk/substances/accessSDS/SDS-6767-580a2908d325c7.18782680 

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