On November 28th, Health Care Without Harm Europe organised a webinar on the topic of reducing the impact of plastics in healthcare. The session featured presentations from experts and is now available for viewing in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Greek. The recording and accompanying materials can be accessed below.
Plastic is a versatile and cheap material, useful to deliver healthcare, but overpackaging and unnecessary disposable products are replacing safe and effective reusable items. From production to disposal, plastics can pose severe risks to the environment and our health. Most plastics are made from fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) and contribute to carbon and toxic emissions. Combined with our incapacity to process all the plastic waste we’re producing and the negative effects on human health, plastic is a global threat to human rights.
Plastic is a public health concern. There is growing evidence of plastic in human lungs, placentas, and blood, and the harmful chemicals present in plastic can leach into our bodies. A precautionary approach is needed to reduce this risk. We must question when single-use plastic is truly required. There is no need for healthcare to use 100% single-use plastic. Through this webinar, we will inspire healthcare professionals to take action by amplifying the existing solutions to reduce plastic and protect the health of their patients and communities. The overuse of single-use items in healthcare reflects the single-use culture of our society as a whole. The healthcare sector can act as a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice and be an advocate for a systematic change in our consumption models.
This continuing education activity has been approved by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) for the award of International Continuing Nursing Education Credits (ICNECs).
In this webinar we:
- Inform participants of plastics' environmental and health impacts from production, use, and disposal.
- Inform participants about the waste hierarchy and highlight the best solutions.
- Offer insight into the debate on reusable and single-use plastics in healthcare.
- Highlight what healthcare professionals can do to reduce plastic and its health and environmental impacts.
This is the first of a two-part webinar series covering the harmful impact of plastics and applying circular economy principles to reduce plastics in the healthcare sector. The second webinar is available here. It aims to train healthcare professionals to improve their practice and influence communities to reduce plastic and chemical exposure for the most vulnerable.
Speakers and presentations
Andreea Zotinca - Circular Healthcare Project Officer, HCWH Europe
Andreea Zotinca supports the implementation of the Towards plastic-free healthcare in Europe project within the Circular Healthcare programme at HCWH Europe. She also supports advocacy work and research initiatives at the organisation.
Prof. Mahmood Bhutta - Consultant in ENT Surgery
Prof. Mahmood Bhutta is the inaugural Chair of ENT Surgery and Professor of Sustainable Healthcare at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. He is also an Honorary Consultant and Clinical Green Lead for University Hospitals Sussex. He co-founded the award-winning Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group at the British Medical Association, which has been influential in international policy change relating to labour abuse in healthcare supply chains. He has been commissioned by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change to chair a national report on environmental sustainability in surgical care.
Nicola Wilson - Lead Practice Educator, Great Ormond St. Hospital, United Kingdom
Nicola Wilson has worked in several different hospitals across the UK, primarily within paediatric neurosciences as a nurse. Over the last decade, she has worked within education, becoming a qualified teacher and enjoying the practical aspects of this role from facilitating learning alongside staff at the patients’ bedside to supporting a team of educators across Great Ormond Street Hospital to teach advanced skills to a range of specialities. She has a particular interest in using education to support quality improvement projects that will have a positive benefit on patient care, staff well-being and the environment.
Federica Pirro - Anaesthetic nurse
Federica Pirro is an anaesthetic nurse, who lived in Dublin (Ireland) since 2016. In 2019, Federica became a mother of two and started to worry about climate change and her children's future. Consequently, she started her professional journey into climate change and its impacts on human health, as well as sustainable healthcare. In February 2021, Federica became the first staff nurse in the “Green and Sustainability Committee” of her own hospital, as representative of the Perioperative Department. She introduced several initiatives to promote a “greener OT” and to educate her colleagues. Federica also has a Master's Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology and has a working background in international cooperation, prevention and health promotion. She is a current Nurse Climate Champion for the Nurse Climate Challenge Europe network of HCWH Europe. Recently, Federica moved back to Italy, where she is working again as a theatre Nurse in the perioperative environment, and she is hoping to increase awareness and education on sustainable healthcare also in her own country.