How can hospitals reduce waste in the midst of a global pandemic?

Supply Chain Dive takes a closer look at how COVID-19 is pushing healthcare leaders to innovate in waste reduction.

Hospitals typically produce enormous amounts of waste. Procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) and now vaccines to manage COVID-19 has made waste an even greater issue in the healthcare space. Common waste items include plastics, gowns, vials, and needles. PPE scarcity and increasing waste have motivated healthcare organizations to innovate ways to reduce medical waste. They are using more reusable items combined with newly developed sterilization methods and revamping supply chain protocols to better manage inventory.

Upcycled, plant-based medical products offer a way to reduce waste and the environmental impact of healthcare systems. For example, Dignity Health Network replaced the plastic needle counters found in their surgical suites for ones made of biodegradable, plant-based material. This change, made through the NewGen Surgical initiative Small Change, Big Impact™ helped the organization remove 10 tons of plastic from its waste stream over two years. Incorporating sustainability into the hospital supply chain can help healthcare organizations manage and reduce waste more effectively and improve their resilience to COVID-19 and future crises.

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