Hospitals and clinics have a problem, but it’s not just COVID-19. The problem I am talking about is medical waste, and the current pandemic is exacerbating this environmental crisis. Thanks to a rapidly increasing usage of single use medical equipment, each patient in a hospital in the US generates 30 pounds of medical waste per day.
And according to a recent article in the New York Times, that waste is ending up on our sidewalks and in our oceans. In the short term, of course, saving lives from the coronavirus is more important than worrying about waste. It’s not a problem we can keep putting off until next month or next year. Medical waste constitutes about 10% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Once this pandemic subsides, hospitals, clinics, and medical supply companies need to focus on sustainability and figure out a way to clean and reuse equipment and drastically reduce their use of single use equipment and supplies.
Working together, we can help take care of our common home, and each other.