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How Sustainability Needs Prioritising in Wales’ Med-Tech Sector


Med-Tech and medical manufacturing organisations in Wales have had their fair share of challenges during the recent economic downturn, with perhaps the biggest challenges in supply issues for essential polymers and medical grade plastics in packaging, and not to mention how many organisations have had to quickly adapt to the new trading relationships with the wider world.

Now that many businesses in this sector are now becoming more comfortable with the changes, the primary focus has now returned to how the Med-Tech sector needs to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, as it has been reported that the industry has seen a slight return in the use of excessive volumes of plastic to compensate for the recent supply issues.

To acquire more insight into this, Business News Wales spoke with Rod Parker, the CEO and third generation family owner of Gwalia Healthcare, which has been operating since 1968 at the Treforest Industrial Estate, south-east of Pontypridd in South Wales. Gwalia Healthcare specialises in manufacturing wearable medical devices, along with pharmaceutical and medical packaging and, more recently, sanitisation and decontamination products in response to heightened demands during the pandemic.

Mr Parker told us that:

“Environmental impact is high on Gwalia’s agenda. Over the last 18 months we have heavily invested into our manufacturing plants to reduce our carbon footprint, with regards to all our electric machines [by] exiting hydraulic machines out of the business, along with looking at how we [can] manufacture with more of a clever mind; and in doing so, looking at how we reduce the amount of polymer in [our] packaging, and also how we integrate recycling the polymer back into the [packaging]”.”

He then told us of some exciting further developments that Gwalia are taking to increase sustainability:

“We recently signed a contract which will allow us to convert all our high-density polyethylene vitamin and healthcare packs into 100% recycled polymer, which is a massive step forward [for us]”.

He continued:

“The team (Gwalia) are investigating bio-polymers and other means of manufacturing packaging from reusable sources, along with our contract packing and [the] manufacturing [of our] packaging allows us to take massive transport [loads] and carbon footprint out of the end-product”

Mr Parker also spoke of some of the challenges that Gwalia faced in the past 18 months, how they overcame them, about how he thinks that the UK’s “buoyant” Med-Tech sector should be used to Wales’ advantage for sourcing supply chains in order to help Wales become a potential market leader for sustainability and innovation.

You can hear the full audio interview with Rod Parker below: