DISINFACTS | Special edition 2023

7 Does this legal situation make sense from your point of view? From the perspective of promoting recyclables, it would make sense to open up the regulations. However, the staff in the clinics would have to be trained much better. What must be avoided at all costs is that a used syringe ends up in a waste management company’s sorting plant, as many items still have to be separated by hand. With regard to recycling, it would undoubtedly be desirable if manufacturers integrated recycling considerations early in the product design phase. A comprehensive assessment of a product’s entire lifecycle is much needed. A simple way to improve this would be, for example, packaging made only of plastics. We at the hospital also try to recycle as much as possible. For example, we have started a pilot project in which we recycle single-use medical devices such as bronchoscopes. Although this pilot project is yielding positive results, it is very time-consuming. How do you do that specifically? We have implemented a colour-coded waste system. Each type of waste has a specific colour. Disposable surgical equipment is wipe-disinfected after use and is then placed in the green container. Before the devices are sent to our waste management company for further recycling, they undergo a brief decontamination process in an autoclave. This is required by waste legislation. This step ensures that the equipment no longer poses any risk of infection. Then, our disposal company dismantles the devices, which are usually made of aluminium, electrical materials and polypropylene, i.e. plastic. These fractions are then shredded and can be repurposed. To be honest, however, it should be acknowledged that this effort is currently more expensive than taking everything to a waste incineration plant. However, given the looming scarcity of raw materials, we firmly believe that we should not incinerate valuable resources. A restructuring of this magnitude is likely not a straightforward endeavour within the realm of daily hospital operations. Did you encounter any resistance when implementing these measures? The level of enthusiasm to back such initiatives is remarkably high among our staff. Undoubtedly, effective communication practices within the UKB play a significant role in fostering this environment. We also use our intranet as a platform to showcase and highlight all our projects. As previously mentioned, our sustainability working group comprises 42 members from diverse disciplines, each offering a unique perspective on the matter. This diversity greatly aids our internal communication efforts for our projects and goals. In fact, the ideas for our projects often come from different disciplines. As a facility manager, I am not familiar with the majority of the processes that occur in the operating room. But if there is a report stating that the disposing of soda lime from ventilators causes substantial costs, everyone collaborates to find a better disposal method that, above all, complies with waste regulations. If this endeavour is successful, we develop a new disposal protocol, which we then present to the relevant department. In most cases, the response is very positive! But this positive reception is undoubtedly influenced by the increasing social importance of climate protection and sustainability. What changes have you implemented in the handling of soda lime? Like any other medical facility, we constantly generate cartridges of used soda lime. Until now, they had to be disposed of as waste requiring special monitoring due to regulatory requirements. „A simple way to improve this would be, for example, packaging made only of plastics“ Continued next page INTERVIEW