Sustainable healthcare case study: Diverting recyclable waste from landfill at Brisbane Day Surgery

Thursday 16 November 2023

As part of the Cura Day Hospitals Group, Brisbane Day Surgery (BDS) is one of Australia’s largest stand-alone day hospitals. The hospital has 10 stage one recovery bays and 22 stage two recovery recliners. It has 94 staff and over 45 visiting surgeons. As a GGHH Pacific member, BDS is focussing on separating recyclable materials from hospital waste to divert waste from landfill. 

The problem

The carbon footprint attributed to Australian healthcare is estimated to be 7% of Australia’s total. Hospitals and pharmaceuticals are the major contributors, as they are highly energy intensive, use many resources and produce large amounts of waste. BDS recognises that a significant amount of waste going to landfill could be redirected into various recycling streams.


  • To reduce recyclable waste going to landfill
  • Repurpose valuable resources

The process

In 2021, a 'Green Team' was established to improve sustainability practices and reduce carbon emissions at the hospital. The hospital took small steps initially, like reducing single use plastic items and other waste streams. For instance:

• Plastic patient belonging bags were replaced with reusable baskets replaced.
• Single use plastic cups were replaced with reusable plastic cups as receptacles for preoperative eye drops.
• Single use plastic cups for pre-med water were replaced with recyclable cardboard cups.
• Plastic straws were removed from general use and replaced with paper straws when required.
• Used pens and batteries were collected and taken to a local collection depot for recycling.

BDS engaged several different recycling schemes to handle the waste, such as commingled recycling, healthcare plastics, Kimguard sterilisation wrap, PVC and polystyrene and other valuable materials. 

By participating in Brisbane City Council’s commingled and polystyrene recycling, CircMed’s plastics recycling, and the PVC Recycling in Hospital’s program, BDS has redirected large volumes of recyclable materials from landfill.

The outcome

We estimate that over the first twelve months, BDS has diverted the following from landfill:

• 53000 litres (53 cubic metres) of commingled recyclable material
• 68640 litres (68.64 cubic metres) of healthcare plastics
• 5760 litres (5.76 cubic metres) of PVC
• Volumes of polystyrene haven’t been measured.

This full case study is available to GGHH members via GGHH Connect.

Congratulations Brisbane Day Surgery! Thank you for your sustainable healthcare leadership!