Austin Health does its bit to reduce its environmental footprint

Austin Health uses 1.5 million plastic medicine cups annually and the Clinical Products Team has introduced a biodegradable paper option instead to reduce the organisation's environmental footprint.

Clinical Products Advisor, Caroline Wise, says at a recent product forum the paper cups sparked her interest, which are indicated for use with tablets only and not liquids.

"The program was established across the whole organisation in June to curb the amount of plastic medicine usage by 90 per cent, as well as reducing the impact of medical waste sent to landfill," she says.

Sustainability Coordinator, Stephanie Lai, says the paper cups break down at a much faster rate.

"Paper medicine cups will biodegrade within two weeks and they can also be recycled or macerated," she says.

Helping the environment with this initiative isn't the only benefit - it's a financial incentive for Austin Health, too.

"This project has highlighted the fact that sustainability does not need to come at a cost, as implementing paper medicine cups has been a cost savings exercise for the organisation," Clinical Products Manager, Danni Baker, says.

The response to the program has been positive, even by patients.

"An Educator on Level 8 told me a patient was concerned about our landfill as they watched how much was disposed in general waste during their recent hospital stay," Danni says.

"The patient was pleasantly surprised to hear that our paper medicine cups were biodegradable."

As it's Keep Australia Beautiful Week, the Clinical Products Team is encouraging all departments to implement the program - a small but very significant change in clinical practice which will help the environment.