Plastics in Healthcare: A Circular Economy Transition Plan

Updated: Feb 23


EcoAid congratulates NSW Circular on their Plastics in Healthcare Report. “This report provides great insight into the mountains of plastic, particularly single-use plastics, which are wasted each day,” said EcoAid Managing Director, Patrick Liu. “We are excited to see the focus on reducing plastic waste and we commend the efforts and commitment of NSW Circular, CEO, Lisa McLean, and Head of Circular Supply-Chain Alliances, Frier Bentley, for initiating the report and for their promotion of the circular economy,” he continued.


An NSW Circular initiative has uncovered a way for NSW hospitals to drive innovation, jobs and circular economy investment in the healthcare sector by tackling plastic waste. Hospitals in NSW are estimated to generate 52,400 tonnes of waste a year - weighing as much as the Sydney Harbour Bridge - which cost the NSW Government at least $16M to dispose of. In just three months, more than 80,000 pieces of clinical waste plastic were collected – almost equal to the total amount of plastic food packaging collected in litter clean-ups across Australia in 2018-19. By recycling just 40-60 per cent of the clinical waste currently incinerated or landfilled, NSW hospitals could create annual savings equivalent to the cost of hiring 40 nurses.


NSW Circular worked with St Vincents Hospital in a recycling trial, during which, they collected 80,000 pieces of plastic waste that weighed 205kgs. The scheme has since expanded to include a vaccine hub in Newcastle, where 170kg of plastic caps from Covid jabs have been collected in just a few weeks. NSW Circular said collecting waste produced from the vaccine rollout across NSW’s public health system could save nearly 70 million pieces of plastic from landfill – this would total about 150 tonnes.

But the challenge is figuring out what to do with it.


NSW Circular joined forces with AllMoulds Plastic’s founder Scott Cantrill who has turned the 80,000 pieces of plastic from St Vincent’s Hospital into parts for roller doors and plastic caps that go on bolts. The plastic caps are then being purchased by Ocycut – a Sydney company that makes parts for wind turbines.


NSW Circular said it set out to prove it was possible for the healthcare sector to recycle without compromising health or safety.


EcoAid is also concerned about single-use plastics in hospitals. Since 2005, EcoAid has replaced more than 28 million pieces of hospital plastic so that healthcare professionals can save the planet – and lives. The range includes more than 70 safe, affordable, and eco-friendly alternatives for the most used hospital plastics including procedure packs, trays, cups and patient straws.

View the Plastics in Healthcare presentation here: https://www.plasticwastecrc.com/plastics-in-healthcare-a-circular-economy-transition-plan/

For more about EcoAid’s products: https://www.ecoaid.net.au/

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