Single-use plastics to be banned in Australian health facilities

Ramsay Health Care 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 2020.

These plastic items – including drinking cups, plates, straws, kidney dishes and cutlery – make up more than 24 million plastic items that Ramsay will eliminate from the environment each year.

Single-use plastic items to be replaced at RamsayApprox Quantity Per Year
Denture Cup133,000
Denture Lid65,000
Drinking Cup7,068,000
Drinking Lid3,359,000
Medication Cup6,575,000
Kidney Dish610,000

Banned items have been selected on the basis of:

  • Being predominantly non-clinical and of low risk and high volumes
  • Having a high level of community support to remove
  • Having suitable alternatives available
  • Having supply arrangements that can be readily enacted

Single-use plastic waste is a global menace; about 8 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.

National Environment Manager Sue Panuccio said: “Rather than wait until legislation is enacted around single-use plastics in Australia, we wanted to take a proactive approach.”

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

“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.”

95% of RHC’s plastic medication cups are being replaced with new 30mL cups which are made from 100% wood pulp. They are both 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.

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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