Hospital PVC Recycling Pilot Generates, Recycles 33,000 Pounds of Waste

by | May 24, 2013

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Hospitals in two Australian states have recycled 33,000 pounds of PVC waste, turning it into industrial hoses and non-slip floor mats.

The hospitals are participating in a recycling program, PVC Recovery in Hospitals, sponsored by the Vinyl Council of Australia in collaboration with manufacturers, writes Waste & Recycling News. Although the amount of products recycled remains relatively low, the Vinyl Council of Australia believes that rates will pick up quickly now that educational packets have been sent to participating hospitals: hospital trials show that educating staff is crucial in making PVC recycling programs in hospitals a success.

The program is currently in effect in six Australia hospitals and medical centers, with another two hospitals in the early stages of implementation, according to the article.

Plastics are a significant share of hospital general waste. PVC, or vinyl, is widely used in healthcare in both building products such as floor coverings, and medical products such as intravenous (IV) fluid bags, tubing, oxygen masks and blood bags. Plastics are estimated to account for about one third of a hospital’s general waste, most of which is sent to landfill in Australia; of that plastic waste, PVC is estimated to represent about 25 per cent, according to the Vinyl Council of Australia. The pilot PVC Recovery program, initiated at Western Health Victoria in 2009, demonstrated that some PVC medical products can be separated relatively easily by hospital staff. It can then be recycled in Australia and re-manufactured into useful new products.

It is estimated that Australia consumes at least 2,500 tons per year of PVC in the most common medical products, including 50 million IV bags. Each ton of recycled PVC produced will replace about one ton of virgin PVC compound used in new products, the organization says.

Currently, two Melbourne-based companies recycle the medical waste. They support the program because Australian manufacturers of plastic products have often had difficulties finding good-quality recycled plastics.

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