Recycling and Sustainability in Australian Hospitals

6m of CPD
Have you ever wondered what happens to healthcare waste after you dispose of it? Improper disposal can greatly affect the health of the planet by either adding to landfill or, at the least, to labour, by those who work to separate general waste from recyclable items.

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What is this article about?

Have you ever wondered what happens to items like empty IV bags, antibiotic vial lids, graduated medicine cups (pill cups) or syringe paper covers after you dispose of them? I question this daily in my ward nursing position and I'm concerned that staff are unsure about what is considered recyclable and what is not, or whether the correct products are put into the correct bins for disposal. Improper disposal can greatly affect the health of the planet by either adding to landfill or, at the least, to labour, by those who work to separate general waste from recyclable items.


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Meet the educator

Ashleigh Mirra
Ashleigh Mirra is a dog-loving, food-addicted, travel-loving, trying-to-be-as-active-as-possible registered nurse at a private hospital in Adelaide, South Australia. She has worked in orthopaedics, plastics, general medicine, day surgery and a variety of other agency nurse settings. Ashleigh has a Graduate Certificate in Public Health from Flinders University, Clinical Honours from the University of Tasmania, a Certificate III in Business Administration from TAFE, and has always had a passion for writing. Ashleigh's previous work history in library services probably hints at her love of reading and filling her brain with new information. Ashleigh has also volunteered for Clean Up Australia, the Mother’s Day Classic, the Flinders Foundation, and is a new volunteer for Share the Dignity. Originally from country South Australia, Ashleigh firmly believes that her experience growing up in a regional town has shaped her into the nurse she is today, especially in looking at the broader picture when considering patients' health and living situations - even if they are admitted for an elective knee replacement.
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What do others think?

76 reviews by Ausmed Learners
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Portrait of Zoe Robins
Zoe Robins
23 Jun 2019
Portrait of Jacqueline Naughton
Jacqueline Naughton
13 Apr 2021
Informative content to lead someone in the right direction to creating a recycling program.
Kylie Purvis
04 Jul 2019
was very interesting and resourceful I was able to use lots of information for my article and found other papers to follow up.
Grace Ramsay
15 Jun 2020
A really good article to see the actions that are being taken within other hospitals and what can be done from the bottom up.
Ash Dougan
05 Sep 2021
Very good resource with links to further publications.
Portrait of Geoffrey Hudson
Geoffrey Hudson
30 Jun 2019
Very interesting article. As someone who worked in the waste management industry before changing careers to nursing I strongly believe one way or another hospitals will have to adopt more sustainable waste practices so they might as well be proactive
Portrait of Tanika Flynn
Tanika Flynn
16 Jun 2019
Specific content and written well.
Melissa Bain
18 Feb 2020
Good to see some material on this issue and I would love to see more. Especially on how climate change is impacting nursing and how it will in the future.
Michael Fitzwilliam
14 Feb 2022
Very interesting.
Stacey Punton
12 Oct 2019
To put it simply - every hospital should be implementing some sort of recycling program. Many of them could actually save money from their buget and in some cases it may be possible to even make money. A number of hosptials are now taking steps towards a more sustainable approach and additonally this is now beginning to happen on a global level.
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