Epworth transforms its hospital waste

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Hospitals create large amounts of waste products, but Epworth HealthCare is doing its best to recycle sustainably and generate green power.

The Victoria-based private healthcare provider has recycled almost 30 tonnes of food waste, medical PVC and employee uniforms in the past year, producing electricity, garden hoses and stuffing for exercise equipment. 

The group’s flagship Richmond hospital is halfway through a three-year trial gathering food offcuts from its kitchen and dehydrating them in a WasteMaster machine to create a powdered residue. 

This is then 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. 

“Becoming more sustainable is a priority for Epworth. We must protect the environment and ensure resources are used responsibly,” said Nicole Waldron, the group’s Chief Operations Officer – Hospitals. 

“The WasteMaster trial means 72 percent of food waste was dehydrated and turned into electricity, diverting 20 tonnes of waste from landfill.” 

In addition, Epworth has launched a separate project to further reduce kitchen waste.  

It 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. 

The volume of PVC it has put through the Baxter Healthcare and Vinyl Council of Victoria PVC Recycling Program is enough to produce 56 kilometres of garden hose, or 2,788 children’s play mats – the equivalent of 10 playgrounds. 

Epworth Group Sustainability Manager Simon Mikedis said any metal is removed from the waste PVC before it is recycled. 

“That includes 15 kilograms of oxygen mask clips, which were also recycled,” he said. 

“The program diverted eight tonnes of PVC from landfill, saving more than $6,000 in tipping fees, which is important as Epworth is Victoria’s largest not-for-profit private hospital group.”

Epworth has also sent more than 400kg of employees’ old uniforms to be recycled. 

Textile Recyclers Australia removes the buttons and zips before the clothes are shredded and turned into carpet underlay, stuffing for gym equipment, blankets and rugs. 

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