In the last year, Epworth HealthCare has recycled almost 30-tonnes of food waste, medical PVC and employee uniforms, turning these items into electricity, garden hose and stuffing for exercise equipment.
Epworth Richmond is halfway through a three-year trial gathering food offcuts from the hospital kitchen and dehydrating them in a WasteMaster machine to create a powdered residue. The residue is then used as a fuel to generate green electricity at Yarra Valley Water’s anaerobic facility in Wollert.
In the first 12 months of the trial, funded by the City of Yarra and Sustainability Victoria, more than 20-tonnes of food offcuts and waste was used to generate enough electricity to power 1,512 homes for a day.
Nicole Waldron, Chief Operations Officer – Hospitals, said being more sustainable was a key strategic focus for Epworth.
“Becoming more sustainable is a priority for Epworth. We must protect the environment and ensure resources are used responsibly,’ Ms Waldron said.
“The WasteMaster trial means that 72% of food waste was dehydrated and turned into electricity, diverting 20-tonnes of waste from landfill”.
A separate project has been launched to further reduce kitchen waste.
Epworth also has a Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) recycling program that recycled more than eight tonnes of IV fluid bags, oxygen tubing & oxygen masks in the last year.
The PVC recycled by Epworth through the Baxter Healthcare and the Vinyl Council of Victoria PVC Recycling Program is enough to produce 56-kilometres of garden hose, or 2,788 children’s playmats, or 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,” Mr Mikedis 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 employees’ old uniforms are also collected, shredded and recycled. More than 400-kilograms of uniforms have been collected for recycling in the last 12 months.
Textile Recyclers Australia removes the buttons and zips before the clothes are shredded, to be turned into carpet underlay, stuffing for gym equipment, blankets and rugs.