Who Stole The Sharps Bin? Reducing waste from the Emergency Department: A recycling process for contaminated and non-contaminated waste

Ms Cherylynn Mcgurgan1, Ms Susan  Harding, Ms  Elizabeth Bradbury
1Royal Melbourne Hospital City Campus, Moonee Ponds, Australia

The Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency Department (RMH ED) is an acute tertiary trauma centre which manages around 78,000 presentations per year.  Emergency Departments are busy, noisy, fast paced environments with many tasks, procedures and lifesaving events being performed by teams simultaneously.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital ED’s project aim is progressively working towards environmentally sustainable practices.  Early 2018 the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) adopted the International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics. This code encourages nurses to address environmental issues as they play a pivotal role in reducing waste in our clinical environment which impacts on health and wellbeing.

Two years ago the Central Sterile Store Department (CSSD) ceased to re-sterilise a number of everyday items. This resulted in individual departments implementing single use instruments and drape packs. Initially all single use instruments were disposed of in the infectious waste sharps bin but it was soon realised that this had a negative impact on cost and was not a sustainable, financial process.

A small team of environmentally conscious staff formed the Emergency Department Green Team with the aim of implementing sustainable changes to combat the enormous waste created when we changed to single patient use items.  Initially staff participated in a `Survey Monkey’ which identified their limited to no existent knowledge on waste segregation and its impact on the environment. The RMH ED currently participates in a number of waste reduction strategies which include

–              The Little Blue towel program

–              Disposable metal  Instrument recycling

–              The introduction of disposable / 100% recyclable curtains

–              Changeover from polystyrene to recyclable paper cups

–              Co-mingle bins

–              Promotion of paper bedsheets in fast track areas

This poster aims to articulate the importance of providing quality patient care with an environmental friendly focus on sustainable practices.

Clinical Nurse Specialist and Equipment Nurse in the Emergency Department of the Royal Melbourne Hospital .