A new public-private partnership (PPP) is helping hospitals deal with their safe healthcare waste in a way that creates school shoes for disadvantaged children.
Specifically, the new recycling project turns non-hazardous intravenous infusion (IV) drip bags and tubing made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into soles for school shoes.
The initiative forms part of an Adcock Ingram Critical Care and Netcare partnership with the City of Johannesburg to initiate collaboration on the impact of the environment on human health, with the aim of creating more sustainable solutions for the benefit of the city and its citizens.
“This fantastic initiative is aligned with the A Re Sebetseng mayoral project, a clean-up campaign encouraging all citizens to take pride in their environment, community, and city,” said Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Councillor Herman Mashaba.
“I am a strong believer in PPP. We, as government, have no chance of doing it on our own so it’s incredibly exciting to be part of this project that is built on a joint effort between a pharmaceutical company, a private healthcare provider group and local government, to benefit impoverished children. This is the way of the future,” continued Mashaba.
The project started with a long-term commitment to building a sustainable business that has the lowest possible impact on the environment. Adcock Ingram Critical Care recognised an opportunity to extend the life of drip bag cut-offs and used drips bags which had contained non-hazardous solutions and were traditionally disposed of to landfill sites as waste.
Joining forces with Netcare, a project was initially piloted at Netcare Pretoria East and Netcare Unitas hospitals, where the traditional cycle of disposal of these bags was relooked. Based on the positive outcome of the project in the pilot hospitals, it was extended to three more hospitals – Netcare Milpark, Netcare Pinehaven and Netcare Krugersdorp – in 2017.
Conveniently located blue coloured bins were set up specifically for the purpose of segregating uncontaminated used PVC drip bags, nurses were trained, and the PVC waste material was collected by recyclers who then sold it to a company that uses this PVC plastic to make soles for shoes.
“It’s an honour for us to be working with the Mayor, the City of Johannesburg and Netcare on this extremely important project. This is an example of what can be achieved when the private and public sectors work together for the benefit of our environment and the upliftment of communities in need,” said MD of Adcock Ingram Critical Care, Colin Sheen.
“Netcare is delighted to be a part of this worthy initiative, which not only speaks to our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint but also to our spirit of investing in the communities where we operate. By participating in this project we are embracing a more sustainable approach to healthcare which, at the same time, is benefitting local school children,” said CEO of Netcare Ltd., Richard Friedland.
“This project is just the beginning of a partnership in which the three parties have come together to all play a part in reducing waste, pollution and landfill sites, ultimately benefitting all citizens, who can look forward to a cleaner, greener, and better city. We look forward to the meaningful difference this recycling initiative will make in the lives of individuals and communities as we expand it in the coming years,” continued Friedland.
As part of the PPP initiative, 1,000 school shoes were donated to learners of the Masakhane-Tswelopele Primary School in Zandspruit.
“A pair of shoes is a practical gift which protects children’s feet from rough ground, dirt and cold, making the experience of learning and playing at school far more pleasant. We need more collaboration and recycling projects aimed at cleaning up our city and using repurposed plastics to provide much-needed, cost-effective products for disadvantaged communities,” concluded Sheen and Friedland.
Globally, PVC recycling programmes are changing the way hospitals think about reducing both their costs and their impact on the environment. Countries like Australia are taking a tougher approach on plastics in the belief that this could create jobs in recycling, engineering and research, forming part of a strategy that aims to plug plastic waste back into the production chain while using as much recycled material as possible.
Locally, the hospital PVC recycling project was initiated with the assistance of the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA), which is implementing a recycling programme whereby non-hazardous material and PVC is recovered for recycling. This is helping transform the plastics industry, encouraging local PVC manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices and the removal of hazardous materials in the manufacturing process.