Photo reveals massive vaccine issue

A disturbing image has exposed a huge hidden issue with Australia’s vaccine rollout amid a desperate push to find a solution.

Doctors and nurses are joining the war on waste after disturbing images reveal a grim plastic waste problem that has made worse by the Covid pandemic.

The scale of the problem – about 70 million pieces of plastic in landfill – is more evident now than ever with the healthcare system relying on single-use plastic during the Covid vaccine rollout.

Images shared by NSW Circular, a government funded organisation that promotes recycling, have given a grim insight into the mammoth amount of syringe caps being discarded.

Each jab involves a range of single-use plastics, including syringe caps and the syringe itself which add up to hundreds of kilos.

And NSW Circular is desperate to do something about it.

The organisation is working with St Vincents for a recycling trial, during which, they collected 80,000 pieces of plastic waste that weighed 205kgs – equivalent to 41,000 plastic bags.

The scheme has since expanded to include a vaccine hub in Newcastle, where 170kg of plastic caps from Covid jabs have been collected in just a few weeks.

NSW Circular said collecting waste produced from the vaccine rollout across NSW’s public health system could save nearly 70 million pieces of plastic from landfill – this would total about 150 tonnes.

But the challenge is figuring out what to do with it.

While the group flagged that clinical waste cannot be recycled, between 40 and 60 per cent of non-clinical waste was being thrown away.

If that was recovered, NSW Health could save between $2-3 million a year which could be spent elsewhere.

“If the estimated recyclable waste currently going into clinical waste streams was recovered, NSW hospitals could create annual savings equivalent to the cost of hiring 40 nurses,” NSW Circular said.

One of the solutions is turning plastic parts into roller doors.

NSW Circular joined forces with AllMoulds Plastic’s founder Scott Cantrill who has turned the 80,000 pieces of plastic from St Vincent’s Hospital into parts for roller doors and plastic caps that go on bolts.

The plastic caps are then being purchased Ocycut – a Sydney company that makes parts for wind turbines.

NSW Circular said it set out to prove it was possible for the healthcare sector to recycle without compromising health or safety.


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