It's an EPIC time to create a wave of change: Reducing single use plastics in healthcare

Austin Health is the second Australian health service to join an innovative pilot project aiming to reduce single-use plastics from healthcare going into landfill and the ocean, in a bid to tackle the sector’s significant contribution to plastic waste. King Edward Memorial Hospital in Western Australia is also taking part.

Healthcare generates hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste each year. It’s estimated that one third of hospital general waste is plastic. [1]

The 12-month project is the first of its kind for healthcare providers, run in partnership with Plastic Oceans Australasia (POA) and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). The pilot aims to demonstrate that the EPIC Business Program can reduce single-use plastic in health settings and showcase measures that other Australian health institutions can take to make meaningful change in a challenging workplace.

“Many people working in the health sector are distressed by the enormous amount of waste the sector generates, especially plastic waste,” said Carol Behne, CAHA Sustainable Healthcare Program Manager.

This critically important project is part of the established EPIC Business Program (Engagement in Plastic-free Innovation for Change), already being used within a myriad of businesses, community groups and councils to reduce their single-use plastic consumption. This is the first time that POA’s EPIC Business Program will be showcased in a healthcare setting.

“The EPIC Business Program provides a comprehensive and supportive system for health services to address their plastics problem,” said Ricki Hersburgh, POA Executive Director.

Austin Health’s Chief Information and Services Office Ray Van Kuyk said “At Austin Health, we recognise that we have an obligation to work to minimise our use of plastics, and we’re thrilled to be trialing a new strategy through the EPIC Program.”

This project has been made possible with the support of Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans Initiative. “We are committed to a clean and healthy ocean, which includes advocating for industry-led solutions to reduce plastic pollution in our environment as well as reducing the effects on human health, so we are pleased to support this important healthcare initiative,” said Dr Tony Worby, Flourishing Oceans CEO. 

Project outcomes and case studies will be shared in early 2023 to scale up the impact of the pilot project and help the health sector address its plastic consumption.

Media contact: Remy Shergill, [email protected], 0423 075 895