Isabella Steele

  • Industry: Surgical and Medical Instruments and Apparatus Manufacturing
  • Project Type: Plastic Scrap Reduction
  • Location: Wilsonville, OR
  • Major/University: Bioengineering, Oregon State University



Isabella interned at TE Connectivity to investigate ways to reduce plastic waste in the medical device manufacturing by analyzing reports, invoices, and utility records and observing processes.

Potential Impact

Isabella’s recommendations could lead to annual impacts of:


13.92 Metric Tons

Reduced CO2 Emissions





TE Connectivity is a technology company that produces cables and tube parts for medical devices and sensors such as ultrasound machines. The facility is located in Wilsonville, Oregon and employs around 400 people. The production of devices and sensors, in compliance with precise standards, can be challenging due to the fact that small variations can mean the difference between acceptable and unacceptable items. These standards that require a “buffer” or a certain amount of extra plastic to account for mistakes, contribute significantly to the generation of discarded waste throughout the manufacturing process. TE Connectivity is dedicated to finding a way to reduce plastic “scrap” waste while adhering to standards.


There are several opportunities for plastic scrap reduction at TE Connectivity. Isabella collected data on scrap weights and created diagrams illustrating where the most scrap was produced in the manufacturing process. She suggested several methods to reduce scrap waste:

  • Generate detailed scrap reports weekly, to see where in the process generates the most plastic scrap.
  • Update and standardize operator cut-to-length procedures and instructions to make sure plastic scrap waste is prevented when manufacturing plastic tubing. 
  • Use a new standardized buffer of 25%-30% for each plastic tubing order. The “buffer” is the extra plastic tubing material that accounts for any discrepancies. Analysis of changing to a lesser buffer amount showed it would not harm the production. This would reduce the amount of scrap being generated on each order.

In total, these recommendations would allow visibility into scrap quantities in specific production areas and foster the ability to introduce scrap reduction efforts.