Kids war on waste

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network has declared a war on waste in a bid to reduce our impact on the environment.

This week Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead held a number of waste awareness activities as part of the Kids War on Waste.

A highlight of the waste awareness week was the fashion parade, where patients and staff hit the runway in both hospitals wearing outfits made from recycled materials. Other activities included waste information stalls and education sessions, a theatre show by Eaton Gorge Theatre Co, a creative arts competition and screenings of the ABC’s War on Waste program.

The Network aims to be a leader in sustainable healthcare by encouraging the hospital community to participate in waste reduction activities and initiatives. Our aim is to improve waste segregation practices, reduce the amount of waste generated, find more ways to re-use resources, increase recycling rates and reduce waste disposal costs.

Hospitals generate a huge amount of waste. Did you know that each bed generates 7.5kg of waste per day?

However, we are always looking at ways to promote and practice sustainable healthcare:

  • This year PVC recycling was introduced which means IV bags, tubing and masks that were previously sent to landfill can now be recycled and used for products such as garden hoses and children’s playmats.
  • A project is underway to remove personal desk bins and replace them with communal waste and recycling bins to increase recycling rates.
  • The Network has joined the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network, an international network of hospitals and health organisations dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint and promoting public and environmental health.
  • In the coming months, styrofoam cups, found in almost every tea room, will no longer be available. They will be replaced with re-usable cups, cutlery and crockery where practical. A more sustainable range of single use cups, plates and cutlery items will be available to order.

Delivering effective waste education is a key factor in improving waste management practices and this is something we will focus on in the coming year, including a waste education component at staff orientation days.

We have amazing green champions, passionate about driving our Network to promote and practice sustainable healthcare. Membership to our Sustainable Hospitals Group has grown by 40% in the last 12 months.

Other wins on the war against waste include:

  • The Network's theatre recycling program diverted 7.7 tonnes of theatre items (kimguard, plastics, surgical instruments) from landfill
  • The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has recycled 175.69kg of mobile phones since it started collecting in 2010.
  • The Network’s toner recycling program through Close the Loop diverted 961kg of toner cartridges from landfill.
  • The Network recycled 690kg of batteries.
  • 60 beds due for replacement were donated to a Fijian hospital in need. These beds would have otherwise been recycled for scrap metal or send to landfill.

Find out more about our achievements so far

We can all play a part and make a difference!