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Health professionals, services have duty to address terrible and toxic health care waste

TJ Ryan Foundation Board member, Linda Shields, writes in Croakey (19.9.19) about the effect of our throwaway culture contributing to the ‘over-sized carbon footprint’ of Australia’s health sector.

‘Climate change is the most important issue of our time. The survival of the earth and everybody on it depends very much on everyone on the planet doing something about the changes that human habitation is making to its climate and geography.

‘Much attention is being given to waste. It’s a very thorny issue, beset by ethical problems such as people’s rights to be consumers, the rights of those in poorer countries compared with rich ones; the use of coal for energy generation when renewables are available, and the massive generation of waste products from human activity.

‘Australia is just as guilty as anybody else when it comes to waste generation. In fact, we could be accused of doing much too little to ameliorate the effects of waste on the environment.

‘The excellent ABC television show War on Waste led by the quirky and indomitable Craig Ruecassel brought home to many of us the amount of waste we generate in our homes, businesses and activities.

‘But there is one aspect of human waste that no one seems to think about enough, and that is the waste generated by healthcare activity.’

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