Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program
Research undertaken by Western Health (WH) in 2015 showed that the environmental impact of healthcare is felt as a sustainability tension by many clinicians, particularly around issues of waste, with Single Use Metal Instruments (SUMIs) the most often cited example.
SUMIs present an obvious wastage of precious metals that are quite recyclable.
SUMIs are presented as a cheap alternative to expensive reusable instruments that often go missing and the lengthy decontamination processes involved in cleaning reusable metalware. EPA Victoria’s prescribed Industrial Waste guidelines state that SUMIs must be disposed of to a specialised clinical (sharps) waste stream where they are treated with hypochlorite, hammer milled and sent to landfill, further compounding the environmental impacts.
In 2016 WH successfully rolled the Single Use Metal Instruments (SUMI) recycling program across all sites.
Approximately 500kg of steel was recycled in the year, representing approximately 80 per cent of all SUMIs purchased.
Another key outcome was the strong positive engagement of staff, leading to improved staff perceptions around their ability to do the right thing at work.