While traditionally places of health and healing, hospitals inadvertently also generate environmental impacts through the resources and products they consume, and the waste they generate.
A team of enthusiastic young midwives at Sunshine Hospital are on a mission to change that by trialling a waste management program on Level 8 of the Joan Kirner Women's and Children's.
The Green Maternity Project aims to improve staff awareness, increase recycling rate and ultimately reduce waste disposal by 10 percent over the next 12 months.
"With the healthcare system responsible for seven percent of Australia's carbon emissions, we want to be part of a solution to improve our carbon footprint here at Western Health", says Anastasia Costelloe, spokesperson for the Green Maternity project team.
"There are a lot of opportunities to improve sustainability within maternity and through this pilot project we hope to be able to implement a range of measures that can be adopted across the whole organisation."
The team undertook an initial waste audit in January with the information gathered to provide baseline data for subsequent audits in July and December.
"We know that behaviour change takes time, so we have implemented a number of measures to continually reinforce our message of sustainability," says Anastasia.
"Each month we present a topic to staff including clinical waste, PVC recycling and co-mingle recycling. We also introduced a monthly Green Maternity newsletter which is distributed to all midwives working in maternity."
The team also developed a survey to assess their colleagues' understanding of sustainability practices and to gain their input on how sustainability in maternity can be improved.
"Our colleagues have been so supportive of this project," says Anastasia. "We look forward to seeing the results of our next sustainability audit and the impact that our efforts have had in reducing waste over the last six months".
The Green Maternity Project was one of 11 projects to be awarded a grant through the Western Health Foundation thanks to donor support and our sponsors Maxxia and BankVic. View other grant recipients.
Western Health is committed to improving sustainability across the organisation and actively encourages staff to take a lead role in adopting and implementing best environmental practice. In 2017 Western Health was awarded the 2017 Premier's Sustainability Award (Health Category) for its Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program. You can find out more about Western Health's environmental performance via its Sustainability Reports.