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.
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.
Waste audit guidelines
Assisting hospitals, health services and other health care organisations commission and conduct waste audits.
Effective waste management through capital works
Effective waste management is dependent on waste management infrastructure on site.
There are significant opportunities for healthcare facilities, and other food services organisations, to recycle food waste.
PVC recycling in hospitals
Plastics can account for up to a third of a hospital's general waste. It is estimated that of all the plastic waste generated by a hospital, approximately one quarter is PVC medical products.
Tools for waste data management
There are two tools available for the management of waste data across the Victorian public healthcare system.
Waste and recycling signage
Waste and recycling signage and posters are available for use by healthcare facilities.
Guides to waste management
There is a range of healthcare waste management resources and case studies available.
Clinical and related waste guidance - Supplement for healthcare staff
The Clinical and related waste guidance – Supplement for healthcare staff has been developed to provide specific guidance to Victorian hospitals and health services on managing clinical and related wastes. The supplement is a user-friendly guide, providing a simple and practical decision-making proc...
Reviewed 07 October 2022