OLVG-West no longer uses disposable blankets: it saves 50 full garbage bags every week

Which products are next on the schedule?

“I am investigating whether we can go back to reusable instead of disposable strokers, a kind of visual tube for surgery. The suture sets in the emergency room are also for single use. It really is a shame. You have a very advanced set of instruments made in Pakistan and transported all the way to Holland. It only costs 4 to 5 euros per. set. Of course, a sustainable alternative can not compete with it. I also understand that it’s cheapest for a leader at the moment to choose that kind of set, but reusable scissors that you wash and sterilize last much longer. So in the long run you get it like that.

We now have paper buckets everywhere, and everyone thinks it is perfectly normal to separate paper in the operating room. It gives 4 øre per kilo. If you throw it in the residual waste, it will be incinerated. You pay for that combustion and it also provides CO2 emissions. So paper collection is a win-win. ”

Hopefully we will also soon start separating and collecting ‘blue wrap’. It is the packaging material for the instruments. Due to its volume, blue wrap accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the clean waste coming from the operating room. If we separate it, the company GreenCycl can melt it into plastic blocks. They then turn these blocks into raw material pellets. They place the polypropylene granules in an injection molding machine, which enables them to make products that are returned to the operating room. Then the circle is complete. ”

Do you measure the impact of all your decisions?

“Of course, we check in advance whether something is cheaper or whether it saves CO2 emissions. But I have to say I think it’s pretty hard. Often you have one life cycle analysis needed to compare products and I did not eat cheese. For that, we should actually have someone on our team who can take a good look at it. ”

Would an LCA person on your team help you?

“Yes. But above all, that care leaders and team leaders in the Netherlands are spreading it urgently more and making it clear to their staff that sustainability is important. It would help me a lot, because I now have the feeling that we are alone with the team shouting in the desert, even though it’s really something we need to do with everyone.

For example, when it comes to sorting waste in OR. Many people react reluctantly. They say: ‘First, make sure you buy good trash cans. If it is properly arranged, I will participate ‘. But I know that such a trash can for OK costs 350 euros. I’m not going to buy bins for thirteen operating rooms if I do not know exactly which streams we are going to separate. I’m also thinking of the hospital purse.

Commitment from the government would also help a lot. Then everyone will see that it is necessary and it will no longer be non-binding. And that there will be budgets for green teams. So, for example, we can more easily replace saliva vessels made of pulp with saliva vessels made of rice waste. Usually they burn down the rice fields after the harvest. Now they harvest the material to make the saliva. They are much more durable than pulp, but they are also 1 cent more expensive per. tray. On an annual basis, I think that equates to 3,500 euros for our hospital. Because we have to pay extra for it, the hospital would not replace it so quickly. ”

Why is the need for sustainability particularly high for the healthcare system?

“As a matter of concern, we are responsible for 7 percent of CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. It is, of course, a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, we make patients better, but we also make people sick through the waste and CO2 emissions that our work provides. .

Also read: Why climate change is a health problem

Have you noticed that other hospitals are getting started as well?

“We are at the beginning of the green transition, because some hospitals have yet to get started. Hopefully we will soon start a PVC recycling pilot with waste handler Renewi and vinyl recycler BessTrade, where our IC department and another hospital also want to participate. PVC can be recycled for 95 per cent. These then become garden hoses or rain boots instead of the material being burned. Ultimately, we need to do it together: industry, government and healthcare.

“Sometimes I get recognized from LinkedIN. I am proud of that, because it means that more people will work with sustainability. People often send messages. They find what I write stimulating and happy to share my experiences. That way, they do not have to reinvent the wheel. For me, spreading sustainability has become a kind of mission. ”

What is important in sustainable management?

“Enthusiasm and having a very long breath. Unfortunately I do not decide on the wallet. I always need my team leaders and leaders for the decisions. And they have to give me time to deal with this. Now I put a lot free time in it.It’s obviously not meant.I like to do it but it’s also work.But if it’s not possible during working hours then it has to happen at another time.I can not shut it down.If I do not do it, I do not think the leaders will mind it. But to me it feels wrong. We are fine and I can not help it now. It’s a bit like a green wave I stepped on. I can not get rid of it now. “

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