Let's reduce single use plastics in healthcare!

We are building this webpage as a resource for healthcare workers. Have some useful resources, case studies or feedback? Contact us at [email protected] Fact sheet

The information below is summarised in this one page fact sheet (pictured right) that we encourage you to download and share.

Not sure where to start?

These reports are a good place:

  • Measuring and Reducing Plastics in the Healthcare Sector from Health Care Without Harm Europe provides an overview of the issue (including the impact of plastic on health and the environment, the scale of the problem, problematic chemicals in healthcare plastics), a toolkit for reducing unnecessary plastics in healthcare, and some best practice examples of successful plastic reduction initiatives in healthcare.
  • Mobilising Health Care to Prevent Plastic Pollution: A Plastics Toolkit for Hospitals from Health Care Without Harm South East Asia outlines healthcare's role in addressing plastic pollution, provides information about the different types of plastics used in healthcare, outlines how to conduct a plastics audit, gives guidance on how to reduce plastics, outlines actions for government and industry, and case studies of health institutions reducing plastic use.

What's the problem?

Single use plastic is harmful to our health and our environment -- yet it's everywhere in our healthcare system.

This harm starts from the time plastic is produced. 98% of single use plastics are made from fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases and drive climate change.

These items are used once and thrown out, creating pollution and waste. About one-third of a hospital's general waste is plastic. Less than 10% of plastic is recycled.


Solutions are everywhere

The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane avoids the use of 480,000 plastic straws annually by changing practice and switching products.

Auckland District Health Board in New Zealand delisted hard plastic drug trays from their purchasing catalogue, replacing them with compostable drug trays.

Greater Ormond Street Hospital in the UK reduced their non-sterile glove use by 3.7 million in one year through education and communication.

Ramsay Health Care has pledged to remove 24 million single-use plastic items every year from its Australian operations.

Warringal Private Hospital's Day Oncology replaced plastic packaging for chemotherapy drugs with a Woolcool.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service replaced roughly 95% of single use plastic items from their restaurants with either reusable or recyclable materials


Together, we can reduce single use plastic in healthcare

Sign on to CAHA's campaign to reduce single use plastics in healthcare to help us demonstrate demand for action using the form above.


Taking action at your health institution...

1) Assemble a team of champions

  • TRA2SH (Trainee-led Research and Audit in Anaesthesia for Sustainability in Healthcare) page on Implementation


2) Complete an audit


3) Identify stakeholders eg: infection control, procurement, OHS, support services


4) Develop a plan and make your case

Resources to help:


5) Run a trial


6) Keep records


7) Evaluate your solution and change as needed (test and tweak)


8) Celebrate and share your achievements and challenges

  • It is important for not only the problem to be visible but also the solution and reductions - share your experiences with us at [email protected]


More information and resources

Plastics in Healthcare: A Circular Economy Transition Plan - NSW Circular have developed the following reports available here:

  • The Case for Circularity
  • A Circular Economy Transition Plan
  • A Playbook for your Hospital
  • The St Vincent's Hospital Case study

How to measure and reduce plastic in healthcare webinarHCWH Europe held this webinar to show how waste audits support a reduction of plastic use in healthcare, and present the tools needed to implement changes. It provides preliminary results of HCWH Europe’s Plastic Free Healthcare Project, and includes presentations from three health institutions in Europe. 

Sustainable food contact materials in the European healthcare sectorThis report by Health Care Without Harm Europe, collates information on the health and environmental risks of commonly used food contact materials, including plastics, paper, board, and bio-based materials. It outlines challenges removing these materials, highlights some successful examples and provides recommendations.

The EPIC Business Program run by Plastic Oceans Australasia aims to help companies eliminate single use plastics in 12 months (read more about an EPIC Pilot for healthcare currently underway here).

Plastic Waste Makers Index report from the Minderoo Foundation shines a light on the companies and financing systems at the source of plastic waste.

Plastics Poisoning our Health video from International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) offers a general summary of plastic issues and the difficulties they create for a circular economy.


Let us know if there's something you've found useful that we should add to this page. Contact us at [email protected]