Sustainable hospitals

No matter how small the actions, we can all make a difference.

Our Network’s purpose is to help children live their healthiest of lives. We want to ensure that children now and in the future, grow up in a world where they can enjoy good health and wellbeing. As a healthcare provider, we consume significant amounts of energy and water and generate large volumes of waste.

We acknowledge the part we must play in reducing our impact on the environment and have set ourselves a goal – to become a leader in sustainable healthcare and encourage everyone to participate in Sustainable Hospitals.

Kids War on Waste 2018

From 27 to 31 August our hospitals will be holding a Waste Awareness Week to look at ways we can reduce the amount of waste we generate and reduce our impact on the environment.

Hospitals generate a huge amount of waste, however there are plenty of opportunities to reduce, re-use and recycle resources. The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network has declared a war against waste and we need your help. There will be a full calendar of events <include link to calendar here> where our staff, patients and families can get involved. 

Last year The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network generated over 1300 tonnes of waste, with 70% being sent to landfill. The total amount of waste per bed per day is around 7.5kg. Audits undertaken over the last 12 months found that around half of what is in our clinical waste bins is not clinical waste.

Recently, however, we have had some big wins. Last year, we introduced PVC recycling in a number of our wards meaning IV bags, tubing and masks can now be remanufactured into garden hoses and playground matting. We donated 60 hospital beds that were due for replacement to a Fijian hospital in need rather than dispose to landfill/recycle as scrap metal. Styrofoam cups are also being phased out and the use of  re-useable plates, cups and cutlery is  being encouraged.

Making small changes day-to-day can have a large and positive impact on waste reduction.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Dispose of nappies in general waste bins, not clinical waste bins. (Clinical waste is 2.5 times more expensive to dispose of and uses much more energy than general waste).
  • Empty your bottle before disposing into the bin. (General waste is also billed by weight and heavier waste uses more energy to dispose of).
  • Use linen only as you need it. (Every towel, sheet or blanket that is discarded for laundering uses valuable water and energy resources).

As a general rule, follow these simple guidelines

Yellow bin

  • YES: Glass, cans, plastic bottles and containers, milk and juice cartons (lids off)
  • NO: paper towels, takeaway coffee cups, plastic plates and cutlery, bubble wrap, plastic bags

Our achievements so far

Highlights from our Sustainable Hospitals program include:

Bed donations

In 2017, 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.

Fortnightly Farmers Market

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead hold a fortnightly farmers market to provide staff, families and patients with access to fresh local produce.

Ride and Stride Week

In 2017, we promoted active travel which included try-an-electric bike sessions for staff and families, bike bus commute into the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, bike maintenance workshops and National Ride to Work Day breakfasts for cyclists.

PVC Recycling trials at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick

This includes recovering PVC items, previously sent to landfill, such as IV bags, tubing and oxygen masks to be recycled and manufactured into garden hoses and outdoor children’s playground equipment.

Global, Green and Healthy Hospitals membership

We became a member of the Global, Green and Healthy Hospitals Network

Drinking fountain installed

Courtesy of Sydney Water, a water fountain has recently been installed at The Children's Hospital at Westmead on Level 2, near Starbucks and the Outpatients waiting area.

The Sustainability Plan

The SCHN Sustainability Plan 2017-2022 provides a roadmap to achieving our goal and sets out six action areas the Network has identified as priorities — waste reduction, energy and water efficiency and reductions, sustainable transport, communication, sustainable procurement and the use of open space.