Hi! I am Noor and I study Design for Interaction at the TU Delft. My thesis topic is about reducing medicine waste in the LUMC operating rooms (ORs). To make the ORs more sustainable, attention has already been given to waste reduction/recycling of disposables and the use of volatile anaesthetics, but much less is known about medicine waste and its effects. I am excited to make the unknown known and come up with solutions that can contribute to a more sustainable OR!
With the ‘Sustainable Hospitals Lab’, we visited the Sophia Children’s Hospital. The most valuable take away from this for me is that hospitals are not designed for sustainable interventions like waste separation. For example, the recycle waste areas are small and do not have room for all waste streams. Besides, there are not enough employees to collect all these waste streams, so to separate plastic the nurses have to collect the bins themselves. This is something to keep in mind.
Our lab also visited the LUMC hospital pharmacy and attended a presentation from the RIVM about the ‘The impact of Dutch healthcare on the environment’. During the visit of the LUMC hospital pharmacy, our group asked critical questions about the waste bins at the lab and what can and what cannot be thrown in Special Hospital Waste bins. We discussed that a better understanding and knowledge of this is needed to properly separate the waste.
The RIVM presentation that roughly speaking the production of chemical products such as medicines causes most – about 40 percent – of the greenhouse gas emissions and the use of raw materials by the healthcare sector (RIVM,2022). This is a valuable insight for my own thesis project. The last few weeks, I observed in the OR (see figure 2) and talked to different employees (from anaesthetics to logistics) to get a better understanding of what is it like and how and why medicines are disposed. In the upcoming weeks, I will continue my research by measuring the medicine waste and finding out the causes. I look forward to discover more and learn from all the experts in the field and my fellow ‘Sustainable Hospital’ lab mates!