Converting waste into wealth

Delanie Bezuidenhout, the CEO SAVA describes the project as a pioneering and collaborative move for the healthcare industryNon-hazardous intravenous infusion (IV) drip bags and tubing made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are now being recycled into soles for school shoes. This is owing to a ground-breaking hospital project initiated by the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) in 2010.

‘We started researching the concept of “practicing green health” in 2010, but our proposals and calls to recycle waste from hospitals were met with lukewarm enthusiasm at the time. Fortunately, a lot of research on this topic has taken place locally and internationally since then, with numerous examples and case studies proving it is indeed possible and economically viable for hospitals to adopt this approach,’ says Delanie Bezuidenhout, SAVA CEO.

The initiative is currently described as a pioneering and collaborative move for the healthcare industry. PVC recycling programmes around the globe are changing the way hospitals think about reducing both costs and their impact on the environment.

‘More than 40 percent of all plastic based disposable medical devices used in hospitals are made of high quality PVC which are highly recyclable. By collecting and reprocessing products such as IV bags, oxygen masks and tubing, a minimum of 2 500t of locally recyclable material is diverted from our country’s landfills,’ Bezuidenhout explains.

South Africa currently has 33 PVC recyclers who recycle rigid and flexible PVC. Between these recyclers, more than 17 000 tonnes of PVC was recycled into various items such as gumboots, traffic cones and soles in 2016.

‘We are excited that the success of PVC recycling programmes are changing the way hospitals think about reducing both their costs and their impact on the environment. South Africa is following the lead of countries like Australia by taking a tough approach on plastics in the belief that this could create jobs in recycling, engineering and research,’ she adds.


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