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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Emerging leaders tackling sustainability in hospitals despite lack of collective action

Health Industry Hub | December 15, 2022 |

MedTech News: Australia’s health system confronts the dual challenge of dealing with human impacts of climate change and reducing its own substantial contributions to the country’s carbon footprint. Australia is widely seen as a climate laggard, with inaction contributing to the erosion of our diplomatic credentials.

The carbon footprint attributed to healthcare is 7% of Australia’s total – with hospitals and pharmaceuticals the major contributors.

Despite a lack of policy drivers and national collaboration to drive collective action, there are encouraging signs of emerging leadership on climate action and sustainability at health service levels.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has become the first medical college in Australia to sign up to the newly released Green College Guidelines. The guidelines, which have been developed in collaboration by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Doctor’s for the Environment Australia (DEA), provide guidance to medical colleges on how they can reduce the carbon emissions of their organisation by incorporating practical changes to the way they operate.

A healthcare sector gap in ESG reporting should be a wake-up call

Brisbane Day Surgery, part of the Cura Day Hospitals Group, has launched a new recycling program in partnership with CircMed to provide a closed-loop solution to their single-use plastics as well as Kimguard.

CircMed is an Australian first recycling program that is fast gaining interest across the wider healthcare industry and is all about creating a greener, cleaner environment.

Brisbane Day Surgery CEO and Director of Nursing, Simone Hamilton, said the hospital has been focusing on being more sustainable, because there is a large amount of plastic waste in the healthcare industry.

“We help around 7000 patients a year which means for example we use around 7000 oxygen tubes, which is 7000 plastic packets to open,” Ms Hamilton said.

“When we heard about CircMed we thought it was a brilliant initiative that solves a big problem we have in this industry with large volumes of single use plastic and kim guard being sent to landfill. This goes a long way to helping us achieve the goals of our practice with impact far beyond our four walls,” she said.

Prior to joining the initiative, Brisbane Day Surgery was already making positive changes including recycling hard plastics with Brisbane City Council, recycling PVC and recycling all paper. This program is just another way they could make more of a difference.

“The CircMed program is all about sorting our waste correctly when we are disposing of it, and a range of items go back to CircMed instead of to landfill,” she said.

“Education on what we can and cannot recycle has been easy as a CircMed educator clearly explained the grades of plastic and provided an education resource folder.”

“Hopefully we can encourage others to go down this path – the medical industry generates devastating amounts of waste not only in usage but in the processes used to create consumables so we are working to change that cycle and how things are produced. Buying power can affect the choices companies make.”

CircMed Director Clinical Innovation Danielle Munro said she was excited to see Cura Day Hospitals Group embrace the program.

“Plastic will always have a place in healthcare due to its unrivalled uses for supporting sterile environments and limiting infection control. What we at CircMed are doing is teaching our connectors that single use items are ok to use but don’t have to end up in landfill – they can have a new life,” she said.

“Items like prep bottles, disposable curtains, kidney dishes, soft plastic packaging and more are clean waste and made from properties that we can sort, granulate, make resins and transform into new products.”

“Studies have shown that up to 3.2 tonnes of greenhouse gasses can be saved through each tonne of recycled plastic compared to newly produced plastic so the impacts that our connectors like Cura Day Hospitals Group are having to our environment are substantial.”

Policy and regulatory barriers to health system responses to climate change need to be addressed. Centralised regulation and guidance, community pressure and healthcare calls for action are important facilitators of policy and regulatory support.

In reimagining healthcare across the entire patient journey, Health Industry HubTM is the only one-stop-hub bringing the diversity of Pharma, MedTech, Diagnostics & Biotech sectors together to inspire meaningful change.

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