• A new life for used medication packs

    Turning blister packs into playground materials is just one of the ways Epworth HealthCare is helping to make the world a greener place.

    Epworth Camberwell recently became the first hospital in Victoria to trial a new recycling program for medication packaging.

    Director of Clinical and Site Services Suzie Hooper said used blister packs were turned into window frames and soft surfaces for playgrounds with the help of the Banish Recycling and Disposal Program (BRAD).

    “We’re excited to be the first hospital in Victoria to be involved with this initiative to help reduce single-use plastic waste across our sites,” she said.

    All medication rooms at Epworth Camberwell now have a dedicated recycling bin to collect empty blister packs. 

    “We implemented this program only two weeks ago and already the bins are full across our wards,” Ms Hooper said. 

    “It’s great to know items will be recycled into new products and won’t end up in landfill.” 

    Through the BRAD program, empty blister packs are collected and sent away for recycling, where they go through a grinding process, reducing the product into a fine dust. 

    During this process, plastic and aluminium naturally separate and they can be reused, keeping blister packs out of landfill and giving them a new life. 

    The aluminium is used to make window frames and the plastic is used to produce soft surfaces in playgrounds. 

    If the trial is successful at the Melbourne facility, it will be expanded across Epworth – the state's largest not-for-profit private hospital group.

    The blister pack recycling program is the latest addition to Epworth's environmental strategy.

    In 2021, the group announced it had recycled almost 30 tonnes of food waste, medical PVC, and employee uniforms in the past 12 months, producing electricity, garden hoses and stuffing for exercise equipment. 

    Its flagship Richmond hospital started a three-year trial gathering food offcuts from its kitchen and dehydrating them in a WasteMaster machine to create a powdered residue that is used as a fuel to generate green electricity at Yarra Valley Water’s anaerobic facility in Wollert. 

    In the first 12 months, more than 20 tonnes of food offcuts and waste was used to generate enough electricity to power 1,512 homes for a day. 

    Epworth is also part of a plastics recycling program that has helped turn more than eight tonnes of its PVC items – such as IV fluid bags, oxygen tubing and oxygen masks – into new products such as garden hose and children’s play mats, saving more than $6,000 in landfill tipping fees.

    Epworth had also sent more than 400kg of employees’ old uniforms to be recycled and turned into carpet underlay, stuffing for gym equipment, blankets, and rugs. 

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