Cleanaway worked with Gosford Private Hospital to pilot an experimental healthcare plastic waste program. In just 12 months, we helped them divert 5 tonnes of plastic waste from landfill.
How did we do it?
Contaminated plastic waste such as blood taking syringes and cytotoxic waste cannot be recycled and must be disposed of according to strict regulatory guidelines. By identifying non-contaminated single-use plastics used as dry waste not recyclable in conventional recycling facilities, we were able to meet both regulatory and safety requirements and recycle the material that would have otherwise gone to landfill.
Registered Nurse Leanne Flynn said that the “out of sight, out of mind” approach towards these single-use plastics was not acceptable. “By partnering with Cleanaway, Gosford Private Hospital was able to have open, transparent conversations about how and where our plastics were being processed and its environmental impact,” she said.
It was through this process that non-contaminated single use plastic such as empty saline containers were as identified as dry waste, a waste stream that can be diverted from landfill and turned into Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF). PEF is used in cement kilns as an alternate and sustainable fuel source to fossil fuels.
Cleanaway worked with Gosford Private Hospital’s operating theatre to trial a new plastic collection initiative. Staff were educated on which plastics could be recycled as dry waste and bag stands were set up in the operating theatre to make it easy to dispose of material correctly. The dry waste material was then transported to the Cleanaway ResourceCo Resource Recovery Facility in Wetherill Park, Sydney to be turned into PEF.
Cleanaway Resource Recovery officer Colleen Watson adds, “Collaboration and education were key to the project’s success. We were lucky to work with Gosford Private Hospital staff who are really passionate about sustainability and the environment.”
The fantastic results from this experiment opens new avenues of plastic waste diversion for other hospitals and similar healthcare facilities. We are also exploring solutions such as chemical recycling which would recycle plastic waste into oil and methods to reduce plastic waste generation in the first please.
Gosford Private Hospital also aims to meet the Australian Medical Association (AMA)’s suggested target of recycling at least 25% of generated waste. Leanne said “While Australian waste solutions are ever-changing, we’re encouraged that Cleanaway is keeping us up-to-date with current possibilities, so we can make informed, sustainable choices.”
Cleanaway is committed to our priority SDGs aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We’re committed to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; making cities safe, resilient and sustainable; and building resilient infrastructure, and promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation through innovation.
Find out more in our 2020 Sustainability Report.