Reducing Waste One Dialysis Patient at a Time
Nephrology practice (the treatment of kidney disease), in particular dialysis treatment, is one of the most energy and resource intensive treatments in medicine and has significant negative environmental effects. At the end of 2014, over 22,000 patients were receiving treatment for end-stage kidney disease, over 10,000 Australians had received transplants and around 12,000 were receiving dialysis.
In response to this issue, Melbourne Health Nephrology developed a leading environmental sustainability team, the Nephrology Environmental Sustainability Special Interest Group, which champions a range of waste reduction initiatives to significantly decrease the amount of waste produced each year.
By seeking alternative disposal methods for PVC materials and by improving recycling, Melbourne Health made significant reductions in clinical waste, while educating staff and patients about sustainable practices and appropriate waste segregation. One satellite dialysis site reduced their clinical waste per patient treatment from 2.4 kg in 2010 to 1.55 kg in early 2016, representing a sustained 35 per cent reduction in clinical waste, through actions which could be replicated in other dialysis units.