Used Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) from Gold Coast University Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) is being recycled and made into garden hoses and children’s playground matting.
PVC is found in intravenous bags, face masks and oxygen tubing. Gold Coast Health has joined 130 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand to dispose of soft plastic through the program, which would otherwise be landfill.
The pilot program has been wholeheartedly supported by ICU staff and other areas of the hospital are looking to adopt the initiative.
ICU Nurse Educator Lisa Gray said plastics accounted for up to a third of a hospital’s general waste, and a quarter of this was estimated to be PVC medical products, according to Victorian Government 2017 statistics.
“Our unit has a green team and together with staff they take a sustainable approach to waste,” Ms Gray said.
“We recycle cardboard and some hard plastic, and no longer have polystyrene cups in the unit,” she said.
Gold Coast Health works in partnership with Baxter Healthcare, the providers of the plastics; and ACE Medical Waste, the processors of the waste into chips for transporting to New Zealand to make new products.
Baxter Healthcare provides disposal bins for each of the 30 ICU patient rooms and larger central bins which are regularly collected and delivered by environmental service staff to GCUH docks for loading by ACE Waste.
Operational Support Services Director for Business Process Improvement Stacey Pitman said the implementation of the recycling program involved a high level of inter-departmental coordination and consultation.