Circular economy approach avoids a tonne of hospital plastic waste


By Mardi Chapman

26 Jul 2023

Tasmania’s clean and green image even extends to health care with a pilot program at two Hobart hospitals managing to redirect more than 1,000 kg of single-use plastic operating theatre waste from landfill.

Running since May, the pilot at Calvary Health Care’s Lenah Valley and St John’s Hospitals is part of GreenMed Australia’s ‘Keep Me in the Loop’ program.

Adopting a circular economy approach to design out waste and instead keep products and materials in use, the pilot aims to separate, collect and recycle the blue sterilisation wrap used to cover sterilised medical equipment.

The sterilisation wrap, which is made of polypropylene, is being redesigned into second life products such as the GreenGuard protective tray corners which elevate sterilisation trays.

The tray corners can also be continuously recycled within the ‘Keep Me in the Loop’ program.

Brenton Lovering, a director at GreenMed Australia and a registered nurse, told ABC News recently that he had previously accepted the fact that waste such as the wraps was part of clinical care.

“Once a sheet of that has done its job and it’s maintained the sterility of the contents, it’s discarded to landfill,” Mr Lovering said.

“So, we identified that as a common, high-volume, high-quality plastic material that was inherently recyclable.”

Calvary Health Care is planning to roll out the program to its hospital in Launceston later this year.

GreenMed Australia says 15 tonnes of sterilisation wrap per year could be diverted from landfill in Tasmania alone.

The Tasmanian company is partnering with plastic reprocessing companies locally and in other states to enable efficient expansion of its medical recycling program.

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