Increased waste in health care is a widespread problem. Currently, modern clinical practices favour single-use products and pre-packaged supply kits. Many of these consist of various types of plastics. By weight, up to 25 per cent of total hospital waste is plastics. Common plastics used are polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinylchloride and polyurethane. Polyethylene terephthalate represents the highest volume, and accounts for 40 per cent of the plastics used in operating rooms.

Health care has an enormous ecological footprint. Around the world, health care waste management strategies and clinician activities are starting to address how health care affects our planet and public health. Recovery of valuable waste, or product stewardship, is one of these strategies.

In many countries, product stewardship in health care is still non-existent or unregulated. Clinicians and health service organisations must make product stewardship in health care an integral part of sustainable procurement and health care business activities. In addition, sustainable solutions require the engagement of suppliers of plastic packaging who can contribute to reducing waste in health care and minimising the impact of plastics on the environment and public health.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.