Modern Australian

6 Simple Ways for Making Healthcare Facilities More Eco-Friendly

  • Written by Chloe Taylor

Hospitals and medical practices are there to keep the nation healthy, but the way they perform on a daily basis is not as eco-friendly as it could be. Given how 4 billion tons of hazardous waste is being generated by healthcare facilities every year, “going green” isn’t a choice but a necessity. Here is how healthcare facilities can make their daily practices more environmentally friendly.

Source food from local farmers

Food that needs to be delivered from a large distance requires trucks to consume more fuel which only pollutes the environment with excessive fuel emissions. Given how a typical cafeteria in a healthcare facility needs to serve food to hundreds of patients every single day, it makes more environmental sense for hospitals and medical facilities to go local with their food choices.

By sourcing food from their local farmers, not only will they be able to lower their environmental impact, but these facilities will also provide their patients with fresh fruits and vegetables which are much better than imported foods, meaning less food will end up getting thrown away.

On the plus side, the food scraps that would otherwise end up in the landfill can be hauled away by a local composting firm. The compost they gain from it can be used as a fertilizer, thus multiplying the environmental benefits and promoting sustainable farming.

Switch to an eco-friendly disposal system

Speaking of managing healthcare waste sustainably, another thing healthcare facilities should look into is an eco-friendly disposal system of biomedical waste. However, with so much waste being produced by hospitals and facilities alike, it may be challenging to get rid of it in a way that doesn’t pollute the environment and cause harm to humans and animals.

Since medical waste has to go through the disinfection process before being discarded, healthcare facilities often turn to the incineration method of disinfecting regulated medical waste. This method requires a lot of energy and releases toxic fumes as a result. A more eco-friendly solution would be to look for green companies who use processes such as microwaving or autoclaving to treat biohazardous waste and switch to these providers.

Install energy-efficient lighting

The amount of energy needed to run a typical day at a healthcare facility is enormous, but reducing the carbon footprint and energy use is still very much achievable for hospitals and medical facilities alike. Keeping lights on 24/7 is imperative in healthcare facilities, so the only way to go about reducing energy use would be to switch to energy-saving LED lighting fixtures.

In areas such as clean rooms where a germ-free environment is of utmost importance, the materials, including lighting, have to meet rigorous standards. Since critical processes require precision, installing high-quality clean room fixtures for perfect lighting is imperative as it ensures optimal working conditions essential for difficult visual tasks.

Switching to green energy can help save the money that would otherwise be spent on electricity bills to pay for the extra staff or make other green upgrades, not to mention the additional savings the facilities can obtain with energy-efficient tax credits.

Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products

Hospitals and medical facilities need to be thoroughly disinfected and surgically cleaned on a daily basis, but many facilities rely on conventional cleaners that do more harm than good. Other than polluting the environment, toxic chemicals can also lead to nausea, rashes, headaches, breathing difficulties, and, in worst cases, cancer and reproductive defects.

To help reduce exposure to chemicals and prevent these side effects, healthcare facilities should switch to eco-friendly cleaners that are non-toxic and biodegradable. By embracing these nature inspired options, you’ll be keeping the patients and employees healthier while also doing something good for the environment.

Recycling single-use devices

A substantial percentage of medical waste is made up of SUDs or single-use devices. To prevent them from going into the landfill, healthcare facilities are reprocessing them. Once they’re cleaned, disinfected, and repackaged, the instruments can be used again and again. The recycling process helps healthcare facilities preserve the environment while also saving a significant amount of money.

As much as it’s important for healthcare employees to recycle, medical facilities should make it easier for the patients and visitors to recycle as well. Placing recycling bins in areas such as patient rooms and waiting areas will provide an eco-friendly solution for the disposal of plastic bottles, cups, and soda cans from the vending machines and lessen the amount of garbage going into the landfills altogether.

Purchase sustainable medical supplies

Aside from medical instruments, medical devices such as casts also make up a big portion of medical waste. To reduce the number of medical supplies such as plastic casts (which are non-biodegradable) being disposed of in the landfill, healthcare facilities can switch to biodegradable versions of plastic casts, and reduce the use of casts for minor injuries that could be treated in a more sustainable way.

Another way for healthcare facilities to be more sustainable is by introducing washable cloth materials for patients. That way, they won’t have to rely on single-use, disposable paper patient bibs and gowns, meaning fewer items will get discarded.

Wrapping up

Sustainability, low operating costs, less wastefulness, and a safe environment for patients and employees – the benefits of healthcare facilities going green are immense. And the best part is that they’re all achievable in a few simple, eco-friendly steps.

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