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BARCELONA, Spain: The popularity of clear aligners in orthodontics has unfortunately resulted in an increased amount of refuge, and the environmental impact of the therapy is a key concern for many current and prospective clear aligner patients. The Spain-headquartered clear aligner company Impress has directly addressed the problem by launching a recycling initiative that aims to provide aligner trays with a new—and environmentally friendly—lease of life.
Impress is aiming to recycle the entirety of the plastic that is produced through its provision of clear aligner therapy. The company said in a press release that doing so would make it the first orthodontics company in Europe to commit to promoting environmental sustainability. However, as well as addressing ethical concerns related to its own operation, the initiative provides current and prospective Impress clear aligner patients the opportunity to lessen the environmental impact of their behaviour as consumers.
Impress is encouraging all of its patients to deposit their used trays in containers at the company’s flagship clinics or to return them by post. Impress clinics receive thousands of patient visits annually, and a key part of the initiative has been to plan environmentally friendly uses for an expected high volume of plastic.
The company explained that the returned aligners will be allocated to one of three categories of processes that each promote sustainability and a circular economy. The first category would result in clear aligner trays being used as a fuel through the generation of heat or electricity by their incineration. In the second category, the recycled aligners would be used as material in other industries. Here, the company points to the automotive sector, where recycled plastic is used in the production of bumpers and acoustic insulation plates, among other things. The third category would mean that the trays would be used in the creation of fertilisers and soil conditioners as a beneficial land treatment in the areas of agriculture and ecological development.
“All companies should be doing everything in their power to protect the planet in any way they can” – Diliara Lupenko, Impress
Diliara Lupenko, co-founder and chief of operations at Impress, commented in the press release that she was excited to announce the launch of the recycling scheme. “All companies should be doing everything in their power to protect the planet in any way they can, and we have been working on this scheme for a while behind the scenes,” she said.
Lupenko added: “After three years of revolutionising the orthodontic sector in Europe, we are thrilled to be the first in our industry to go that one step further and bring sustainability to the field.”
Impress explained to Dental Tribune International that, at the beginning of treatment, patients are informed about the initiative by their dentist or orthodontist and that the scheme is also being promoted through Impress’s social media and other marketing channels. “To encourage participation, we have set up a prize draw. Everyone who recycles their aligners will be entered into a prize draw and will have the chance of winning one of the prizes, which include a check-up at the clinic, dental cleaning, and a pack of Impress products,” the company added.
Impress said that it hopes that all aligner trays will be recycled and that its competitors in the clear aligner space will follow the company’s example and establish their own recycling initiatives.
Late last year, Impress, which operates in Spain, the UK, Italy and France, opened what it said was the largest technology-driven clear aligner treatment and planning facility in Europe.