WA News Letters Theatre's War on Waste
Theatre's War on Waste
Written by Dr James Anderson
Thursday, 03 August 2017

Dear Editor,

I was interested to read Belinda McManus's letter (War on Waste, July) regarding waste in operating theatres. Data from the UK (AAGBI) suggests that each theatre's anaesthetic team produces 2300kg of waste annually, of which at least 40% is recyclable. Operating theatres contribute 20% of a hospital's waste. 

Some of the major WA hospitals (SCGH, FSH and perhaps others) have introduced recycling in theatres, however, it is unclear how successful these schemes have been.

In a busy workplace, like theatre, the system for separating and collecting recyclables needs to be clear, consistent and easy. This has been done at one hospital by providing different coloured waste bags attached to the anaesthetic trolley, one for clinical waste (~$1000/tonne) and one for recyclable waste (~cost neutral). Even with careful separation of waste by clinicians, most hospitals don't have a consistent process for cleaners to collect and dispose of recyclables in clinical areas. 

Across the WA Health system, recycling clinical waste seems piecemeal at the moment and review by the Sustainable Health Review may lead to a more streamlined approach across the system which would certainly save money and reduce theatre’s waste footprint.

Our role as clinicians is to advocate for the health of society as well as our individual patients. Reducing our workplace waste is one cost effective and practical way for us to contribute to a healthy community. 

Dr James Anderson, Anaesthetic Senior Registrar