It is estimated that in 2010-11 Victorian public healthcare services generated some 42,000 tonnes of solid waste. Around 8,600 tonnes of this was recycled, 4,300 tonnes was clinical waste and the remainder was classified as general waste. The cost of disposing this waste was close to $17 million, of which two-thirds was for the treatment and disposal of clinical waste.
The growth of health service activity is likely to lead to increased levels of waste generation, and by 2021-22 it is forecast that Victorian public healthcare services could be generating as much as 52,000 tonnes of solid waste per annum.
Effective management of waste provides opportunities to reduce operational costs and the environmental impacts of an organisation as well as reducing risks to staff and patients.
Waste education in healthcare
The department, in collaboration with Sustainability Victoria, are undertaking a two year project to explore waste avoidance and resource recovery opportunities in the healthcare system.
Research has been conducted to explore waste avoidance and resource recovery education opportunities with the findings used to develop a series of interventions that aim to increase resource recovery and reduce waste to landfill and minimise clinical waste costs.
The Waste education in healthcare summary report outlines the research findings and intervention points identified.
Waste management tools
There are a number of waste management tools to help healthcare services effectively manage their waste:
- capital development guidelines for waste
- waste signage
- data and management
- on-site processing of organic waste
Solid waste management guide.