Our Dialysis Unit recycles up to 45 kg of PVC per week.

In pictures: Our recycling and sustainability efforts

Few of the dialysis patients at St Vincent’s would realise it, but they are now part of a program that is helping to turn hospital waste into garden hoses.

It’s all part of a new approach to making the hospital greener and reduce waste.

An enthusiastic team of ‘Green Champions’ from our Dialysis Unit has embraced the idea, and spent 2014 looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. The team, led by Nurse Unit Manager Nuala Barker, along with Gwen Still, David Cork, Robyn Black and Heather Charles, has led a five-fold increase in waste recycling in the past six months.

The Dialysis Unit has always produced a considerable amount of waste, and a recent waste audit confirmed that there was much room for improvement.

‘What we discovered was that although we were already recycling cardboard, there were opportunities to recycle plastics, packaging and PVC in large volumes,’ says Nuala.

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St Vincent’s Dialysis Unit

The Dialysis Unit commenced a new recycling program in September last year, with education on recycling, new recycling bins, followed by further clinical waste education and the implementation of a smaller clinical waste containment system.

It’s the first unit to successfully incorporate recycling of PVC, including tubing, empty fluid bags and oxygen masks. The PVC is collected at no cost and recycled into plastic pellets used to make garden hoses.

‘The Dialysis Unit is now recycling approximately 40-45kg of PVC per week, which will result in more than two tonnes of PVC being diverted to recycling over 12 months,’ says Nuala.

The Dialysis Unit has decreased their landfill waste by more than 20% in the past year, while halving the amount of waste by volume.

With the assistance of medical supplies provider Baxter, the team has also extended its recycling program to 25 of their home dialysis patients. Baxter now provides a collection service for all PVC and cardboard waste when delivering medical products for patients who dialyse at home.

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Other areas of the hospital have also embraced PVC recycling

Environmental Services Manager Stella Moon says projects have now begun in Emergency and ICU, with plans to implement a similar program within the Vascular Unit next year.

‘The Sustainability Committee would like to encourage other departments to nominate a Green Champion and participate in turning our organisation greener,’ Stella says.

Building a sustainable health service

St Vincent’s is striving to minimise its environmental footprint by encouraging environmentally aware practices, developing energy efficient buildings and infrastructure and setting targets for improved environmental sustainability.

We have met our goal of diverting at least 29 per cent of our waste to recycling for the 2014-15 financial year through our reduction, reuse and recycle program.

As part of the reduction initiative; companies have been approached about reducing the amount of packaging brought onto site as well as the continued donation of hospital equipment (serviceable) to Rotary Australia for distribution overseas.

We have also enhanced our waste auditing program to identify further recycling opportunities resulting in the implementation of a program to recycle vinyl and an enhanced range of plastics within the hospital.

Electricity is used around our hospital for space cooling, ventilation, lighting, medical equipment and many other processes. Natural gas and steam is used for space heating, sterilisation of medical equipment, cooking and domestic hot water.

A number of improvements have been made to buildings and infrastructure throughout the year to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency, including:

  • LED lighting program introduced last year is still in progress, and we are already seeing a reduction in energy consumption
  • Installation of variable speed drives (VSD) on electric motors to reduce energy consumption
  • Time scheduling of air-conditioning systems in non-patient areas, most air conditioning systems are set on economy mode
  • 55 Victoria Parade water cooled chiller was replaced with a more efficient air cool chiller, reducing water consumption
  • Garden sprinkler system at Caritas Christi Hospice has been connected to rain water tanks


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