5 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of surgical instruments

Minimising the carbon footprint of surgical instruments is just one of the many ways in which NHS Trusts can work towards their Net Zero plans.

Whilst quality reusable instruments can have a larger upfront cost than cheaper reusable instruments or disposable alternatives, they can make a much bigger contribution to hospital Trusts reducing their carbon footprint.

This is because less waste is generated as fewer instruments need to be manufactured and disposed of.

So what 5 things can help you identify reusable instruments that will help you reduce carbon equivalent emissions? 

  1. Longevity of instruments

At Cairn Technology, we want to supply the very best surgical instrument solutions for NHS Trusts looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Stille instruments allow us to do this as they are warrantied for 30 years (1).

In fact, there are many recorded instances of Stille instruments being used for longer. One inventory in a surgical centre in Sweden revealed that 26% of its surgical scissors had been in service for up to 50 years and 74% were over 50 years old.

Stille helps maintain the longevity of its products by providing its own expert and comprehensive maintenance service. This includes the complete dismantling of instruments to ensure that they are properly inspected, refurbished and cleaned.

  1. Instrument design

Good instrument design is essential if they are to be long-lasting for minimum impact on the environment.

Handcrafted through over 70 individual steps and made from the highest quality steel, Stille instruments draw on the company’s 175 years of engineering know-how to deliver instruments that will last for decades.

A considered commitment to design has seen them develop a number of innovative instruments. These include the first SuperCut scissors, which use one knife blade and one scissor blade for precise cutting to the very tip, and the first double-action bone rongeur.

By choosing instrument variants, such as the Stille SuperCut XE scissors, which come with a more durable and environmentally friendly Chrome-free coating, you can go even further in reducing the carbon footprint of surgical instruments in your operating theatres.

  1. Ease of maintenance and repair

Clever design of Stille instruments has also ensured that they can be cleaned, sterilised, inspected and maintained effectively.

For example, removable joint screws in instruments such as Stille scissors and rongeurs ensure that they can be disassembled for thorough cleaning and inspection. This design also allows for the correct resharpening of scissor blades to bring them back to their original condition, ensuring even longer service in the field.

Another example is the Kerrison Stille Laminectomy Punch. Here the absence of a spring between the handles improves the accessibility for cleaning and reduces the risk of surgical gloves getting caught.

  1. Durability

You can ensure even greater longevity by choosing reusable Stille instruments that consist of metals that even outperform stainless steel.

For example, instruments with Tungsten Carbide in the blades or tips are stronger than stainless steel and can last up to five times longer.

Instruments with ceramic coating provide four to five times higher surface hardness than stainless steel, as well as offering greater resistance to rust and corrosion.

Whilst Titanium is fracture-proof, non-rusting and is entirely resistant to chemicals.

  1. Reliability

Failure of a surgical instrument immediately before or during surgery can not only risk patient health, but it can also lead to procedures being halted and postponed.

From an environmental point of view this is bad, as it then means that a lot of single-use consumables, such as absorbent floor mats and surgical gloves, will need to be disposed of, with more being required for the procedure when it finally takes place.

So investing in reliable surgical instruments can also impact on carbon emission reduction for a wider range of theatre consumables as well.

Want to improve your carbon footprint with Stille instruments?

If you are interested in investing in Stille instruments, please click here to contact us. You can also browse the Stille range here:


(1) 30 year warranty applies so long as they are used, cared for and serviced properly by Stille’s own service team.