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Delivering sustainable healthcare

District takes further steps to cut carbon footprint.

Man standing in a warehouse holding cups and containers
SydneyConnect Image:  Carl Sharp, the District's Acting Health Product Manager

Sydney Local Health District has begun to introduce additional environmentally friendly products across its facilities, as it takes further steps to reach its aspiration of being carbon neutral by 2030.

"We have made progress towards greater sustainability through a changeover to some biodegradable and compostable clinical consumables including medicine cups, denture cups and pill cups," Carl Sharp, the District's Acting Health Product Manager, said.

Data shows the District uses almost two million pill cups, 183,000 medicine cups, 42,900 denture cups, and 12,000 denture cup lids every year.

"Many of the items were made of plastic. We wanted to take action to switch to products that were better for the environment," he said.

The move has resulted in the District now using 2,185,100 items that are biodegradable, compostable or recyclable each year instead - which is also delivering annual savings of about $45,000.

For example, a 20-millilitre plastic pill cup has been replaced with a 30-millilitre, 100 per cent biodegradable paper cup.

"It's not only better for the environment, but it's also better for the bottom line. It's estimated the change to a paper pill cup will save the District close to $39,000 a year," Carl said.

The District had already replaced some traditional surgical equipment too.

A non-sterile plastic kidney dish has been changed to one that's made of 100 per cent biodegradable sugarcane fibre.

The District is investigating replacing the 3.2 million foam cups used each year with a biodegradable or compostable cup that's suitable for both hot and cold drinks.

The types of straws, anaesthetic trays, sterile kidney dishes, bowls, gallipots and injection trays are also being reviewed.

Among the District's priorities is a commitment to sustainability with Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson's aspiration for the LHD to be carbon neutral by 2030.

A new Sustainability Plan is in development which will outline the ways the District will work towards incorporating additional sustainability measures in key areas like energy and water consumption, procurement, food and waste.

"Every small step we take will bring us closer to achieving the District's long-term goal to be carbon neutral by 2030," Carl said.