It is inevitable that in healthcare many expensive supplies are opened and unpacked for use but never actually used.
These items are then discarded as clinical waste, though they need not be and might go straight to materials recovery, reprocessing for re-use, or salvage for reprocessing and re-use in resource-poor countries.
Many hospitals are no reprocessing single-use items for re-use though some find that the cost of that reprocessing, and the cost of proving the process and delivering a product that meets stringent QC requirements and fear of any legal ramifications is just not practical. Instead, these items go to waste, though things are changing.
In Canada, a group of University of Western Ontario medical students has devised Operation Green, a student-led initiative at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, that aims to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare and to help medical professionals provide care in the developing world.
Founded by third-year students Nathan Stall, Yoan Kagoma and Jen Bondy, Operation Green collects trash-bound surgical equipment — readied but unused — from University Hospital for donation to developing nations.
Avoiding or reducing waste, re-using items that might otherwise be discarded as waste, or recycling waste items for materials of energy recovery each contribute to the required sound environmental output from our healthcare activities. Helping resource-poor countries in the process is a wonderful idea.