Ramsay Health Care – saving lives and the planet

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The staff at Ramsay Health Care are committed to saving lives and now they are committed to saving the planet too.

The organisation has pledged to ban a range of single-use plastic items from its 72 Australian hospitals, day surgeries and clinics by World Environment Day in June next year.

National environment manager, Sue Panuccio, said Ramsay did not want to wait for government legislation surrounding single-use plastics.

“We wanted to take a proactive approach,” she said.

“We are serious around developing initiatives that advance the health and wellbeing of both current and future generations – and protecting the environment is a crucial part of this.”

Ramsay will be eliminating plastic drinking cups, plates, straws, kidney dishes and cutlery – which will mean more than 24 million plastic items taken out of the environment each year.

Single-use plastic items to be replaced and the quantity currently used per year include:

  • Denture cup – 133,000
  • Denture lid – 65,000
  • Drinking cup – 7,068,000
  • Drinking lid – 3,359,000
  • Fork – 412,000
  • Knife – 630,000
  • Medication cup – 6,575,000
  • Plate – 760,000
  • Spoon – 2, 852,000
  • Stirrer – 1,065,000
  • Straw – 1,188,000
  • Kidney dish – 610,000

The total number of items being replaced is 24,717,000.

Ms Panuccio said the items to be banned were chosen on the basis of being predominantly non-clinical and low risk and high volumes; there was a high level of community support to remove them; there were suitable alternatives available; and they had supply arrangements that could be readily enacted.

“Single use plastic is a global menace,” she said.

“About eight million tonnes of plastic reportedly ends up in the ocean every year – the equivalent of dumping the contents of a garbage truck every minute.

“Ramsay Health Care has recently undertaken extensive staff focus groups globally to examine how to better address sustainability across the business and waste reduction was identified as a major area of focus.”

Up to 95 percent of Ramsay’s plastic medication cups will be replaced with new 30ml cups which are made from 100 percent wood pulp. They are biodegradable and compostable, decomposing within two to six weeks.

Ramsay Health Care is currently investigating a range of other waste reduction strategies to continue delivering environmentally sustainable outcomes.

“Our patients and staff expect us to constantly look for new ways to conserve and protect the environment, so this new initiative to remove 24 million single-use plastic items per year is something we are really excited about,” Ms Panuccio said.

Ramsay also recently launched a $1 million Environmental Sustainability Fund to support hospitals to undertake projects that reduce carbon emissions during this financial year.

Through this scheme, Ramsay sites could apply for funding to undertake initiatives like energy efficient lighting and alternative energy options such as solar power.

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