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Saving lives, saving the planet

5 June 2019

As well as saving lives, one of the busiest intensive care units in the country is doing its bit to save the planet.

The ICU at Wellington Regional Hospital sees around 1700 admissions every year – more than half of which are from other regions including Hawkes Bay, Palmerston North, Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, and Nelson.

Over recent years, the ICU’s ‘Green Team’ – staff with a passion for sustainability – has also been implementing schemes to increase recycling, encourage recycling, and ultimately reduce waste.

“As a bedside nurse, I used to fill up several rubbish bags a day – often with things that could have been recycled,” said ICU Associate Charge Nurse Manager and Green Team member Tania Mitchell.

“The Green Team was formed to help ensure we cut down on waste, use no more than we need, make recycling easy and accessible, and encourage sustainability in the choices we make – this included setting up a recycling scheme that diverts bedside waste from landfill.”

The scheme sees a large wheelie bin of glass medicine bottles recycled each week – around 260 wheelie bins recycled over the past five years. Approximately one ton of PVC has also been recycled over the past two years – diverted from landfill to be recycled into non-slip mats for playgrounds.

Other initiatives include setting up a communal ‘keep cup’ shelf in the staffroom so everyone has access to a reusable cup, introducing comingle recycling bins – for paper, plastic and cans – to each ICU bedspace, and running education sessions for staff on how to reduce waste.

“Over the years we been able to get more people on board – either joining the Green Team, or just thinking more sustainably. This has helped us to divert a significant amount of waste from landfill – which – as well as being environmentally-sustainable – has also resulted in saving for the DHB cutting down on waste disposal costs.”


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