Operating theatres produce 20-33% of total hospital waste, including up to 60% of the hospitals’ regulated medical waste. Ensuring we reduce, reuse and recycle where possible can have a substantial impact on costs ($ and eCO2) and waste.
An example of streams that are easy to recycle in a tertiary hospital is available on the below poster from Fiona Stanley Hospital in Western Australia.
Recycling is cost effective
Much waste generated in healthcare facilities can be recycled at a substantially lower cost compared to clinical waste or general waste. Some indicative numbers from circa 2018 compare various waste streams. Note that the default in some organisations is for all clinical waste to end up as medical (infectious) waste, which is expensive and can be incinerated, generating further emissions.
|2018 costs per tonne||2021 costs per tonne|
|Diathermy pens, Surgical single use metal instruments, laparoscopes, contaminated hard plastics||$990||$1200|
|PVC recycling and Huck towels||$0||$0|
|Sterile wrap (Kimguard)||?||?|
eWaste is also another key element – social enterprise “Pony Up for Good” is used by health services in Australia to securely erase data and recycle/reuse devices.