CODE GREEN – tackling the impact of single use plastic in the health care sector

June 24th, 2024

Presentation by Dr Renae McBrian (Queensland Children’s Hospital)

Plastics comprise up to a third of hospitals’ general waste and 40-60% of the clinical waste streams. Modern healthcare has a critical reliance on single use plastic and ultimately generates a largescale waste problem within any hospital, with a significant portion missing the opportunity to be segregated and captured into recycling. There is little understanding of the lifecycle of medical plastics, with no labelling, plastic identification or product stewardship to support a circular economy in Australia. Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH) delivers national leadership on sustainable management of medical plastics. The QCH have eliminated over 1 million pieces of single use plastic from their health care service and have developed clinical pathways to segregate and recycle plastics from critical care areas. The QCH Operating theatres have delivered a 40% reduction in landfill since introducing plastic recycling in theatres. QCH now segregate 1100L of clean, repeatable plastic every day which represents potential value and feed stock to the recycling and manufacturing industries. These initiatives will contribute to solving Australia’s plastic waste problem and advancing the sustainability of plastic use in healthcare.