Firstly, what is sterilisation wrap?
Sterilisation wrap, aka Kimguard, blue wrap or steri wrap, is a polypropylene wrap. When wrapped around surgical instrument trays it creates a barrier to bacteria while allowing sterilant to penetrate. This keeps instruments sterile and safe, ensuring optimal patient care and protection.
Halyard, the leading manufacturer and supplier of sterilisation wrap in Australia, provides the following definition for sterilisation wrap:
“HALYARD* Sterilisation Wrap is made out of polypropylene using a five-layer (Spunbond-Meltblown-Meltblown-Meltblown-Spunbond) process; the outer layers of the sterilisation wrap provide exceptional strength and durability. The inner multi-layers of Melt blown fibres provide an optimal barrier to bacteria and liquids while allowing penetration of gas sterilant (steam, ethylene oxide and plasma).1”
Pre-incision sterilisation wrap is suitable for recycling because it is a single type of plastic, sterile, and never soiled. Why waste a perfectly good resource by sending it to landfill, when you can recycle it into new and useful products?
What happens when it is landfilled?
Sterilisation wrap is made from plastic. Plastic is a synthetic material. This means it does not biodegrade in the environment as a banana peel does.
In fact, almost every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists somewhere on Earth today.
So, what happens to it when we send it to landfill, then?
Plastic doesn’t break down, it ‘breaks up’ into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic called microplastics.
Microplastics have been found in seafood, bottled water, salt, honey, beer and even inside of us.2 Scientists estimate the average person could be ingesting 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card.2
The United Nations estimate there are already more microplastics in our ocean than stars in our galaxy.3
As a society, we are generating more soft plastic than can currently be collected and recycled in Australia. In fact, only 9.4% of plastic is recycled in Australia.4 The rest is landfilled or makes its way into the environment. There is a mismatch between the amount of soft plastic waste and the demand for products containing recycled soft plastic. This is why reducing buying recycled products is so important.
What can we do about it?
The best thing hospitals can do when it comes to their clean sterilisation wrap is to recycle it. Giving your sterilisation wrap a second life can make a big difference to how much waste your facility sends to landfill. Not only that, but it can be used to make new products, reducing the need for virgin plastics. Recycled plastic has a significantly lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic. Plus, recycling helps create jobs in Australia and keeps plastic out of the environment and ocean, protecting our wildlife.
In addition to environmental outcomes, recycling your sterilisation wrap can have economic benefits, such as reducing your landfill disposal costs.
It can also increase staff morale, by engaging them to fight plastic pollution, clean up the environment and join a community of health care workers dedicated to protecting both patients and the planet.
It’s also important to recognise that every single one of us can make a difference. As individuals, we can help tackle plastic pollution by doing three things:
- Reduce what you can
- Recycle the rest
- Buy back recycled products
This applies to all single-use and unnecessary plastics. Think plastic straws, plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles.
Start the journey to recycling sterilisation wrap today
WrapBack™ provides hospitals and health care facilities with everything you need to review and implement sterilisation wrap recycling at your hospital or health care facility.
It’s time to say NO to sending a perfectly good resource to landfill and wasting money on landfill disposal
It’s time to say YES to sending your WrapBack™ for recycling.