Syringes, IV tubing, saline bags, packaging: Canada's hospitals couldn't function without single-use plastics
2019-06-12 from nationalpost.com
A few years ago, researchers at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh decided to look at the environmental impact of performing the second most common major surgery for women in the U.S. and Canada: a hysterectomy.
The study involved 62 surgeries. Immediately following each one, researchers went into the OR and carefully collected, sorted, labelled and weighed the solid waste and recycling.
On average, a single abdominal hysterectomy generated 9.2 kilograms of waste, about half of which came from gloves, thin film packaging, wrappers, hard plastic trays and other plastics.
Syringes, IV tubing, saline bags, plastic-wrapped drugs, catheters — hospitals couldn’t function without plastics. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021 may have noble intentions, not all plastics are evil, experts say.
“It would be hard to overemphasize the importance of plastics in modern society,” Dr. Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society wrote recently in the Montreal Gazette. Medical equipment, cars, airplanes, computers and communication systems “all rely on a variety of plastics.”
“Just think what our world would be like if we didn’t have garbage bags,” he said in an interview. “It’s not a frivolous use — it’s absolutely necessary for sanitation.“
Still, 50 years after Ben Braddock, the floundering college graduate played by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, was told, “Plastics! The future is plastics!” the material has attracted the ire of environmentalists.
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