The key topics under consideration in the Green Healthcare Programme (GHCP) are those relating to resource efficiency and the prevention of waste and emissions, including several material streams, wastes, water and energy.

Food waste. The GHCP carried out 29 detailed food waste surveys in both acute hospitals and PCCC facilities to determine the type and quantity of food waste generated in Irish healthcare facilities. The surveys recorded the quantity and type of food that was provided to patients, disposed of as waste, and by correlation eaten by patients. This allowed an overall assessment of the effectiveness of the food delivery system. MORE.

Clinical risk waste is waste from healthcare facilities, which poses a risk due to its potential infectious nature and this is a major concern in this sector. The GHCP reviewed the contents of the healthcare risk waste bags to determine the type of materials within the bags. The 30 risk surveys and analysis show potential for a reduction in the amounts entering this waste stream, such as opportunities to ensure that non-risk waste does not get unnecessarily mixed with clinical risk waste. MORE.

Recycling and separate collection is practiced in the majority of hospitals, but 8 to 15% of recyclable waste still ends up with residual waste for disposal. Recyclables account for 32% of landfill waste in acute hospitals and 16% of landfill waste in PCCC facilities. The ongoing challenge in a busy hospital situation is to make segregation as easy as possible for people in a fast moving environment and several recommendations have been identified to achieve that goal. MORE.

Water flow surveys were carried out in 4 healthcare facilities under GHCP and these have identified some high usage fixtures in the facilities for which flow-rates could be reduced. While there is scope for water reduction – tap flows, toilets, urinals (where present), it is also necessary to take account of legionella prevention requirements. Further research is required in this topic. MORE.

Energy is a major source of emissions in Ireland and a massive economic burden in this and other sectors. While Energyenergy was not the main focus of GHCP, an “out-of-hours” energy survey was conducted in one hospital in 2010 and potential savings of €10,000 per annum were identified for this facility alone with circa. 1000 staff. MORE.