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Original research
Targeted intervention to achieve waste reduction in gastrointestinal endoscopy

Abstract

Objective Endoscopy is healthcare’s third largest generator of medical waste in hospitals. This prospective study aimed to measure a single unit’s waste carbon footprint and perform a pioneer intervention towards a more sustainable endoscopy practice. The relation of regulated medical waste (RMW; material fully contaminated with blood or body fluids or containing infectious agents) versus landfill waste (non-recyclable material not fully contaminated) may play a critical role.

Design In a four-stage prospective study, following a 4-week observational audit with daily weighing of both waste types (stage 1), stage 2 consisted of a 1-week intervention with team education of waste handling. Recycling bins were placed in endoscopy rooms, landfill and RMW bins were relocated. During stages 3 (1 month after intervention) and 4 (4 months after intervention), daily endoscopic waste was weighed. Equivalence of 1 kg of landfill waste to 1 kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and 1 kg of RMW to 3kgCO2e was assumed. Paired samples t-tests for comparisons.

Results From stage 1 to stage 3, mean total waste and RMW were reduced by 12.9% (p=0.155) and 41.4% (p=0.010), respectively, whereas landfill (p=0.059) and recycling waste increased (paper: p=0.001; plastic: p=0.007). While mean endoscopy load was similar (46.2 vs 44.5, p=0.275), a total decrease of CO2e by 31.6% (138.8kgCO2e) was found (mean kgCO2e109.7 vs 74.9, p=0.018). The annual reduction was calculated at 1665.6kgCO2e. All these effects were sustained 4 months after the intervention (stage 4) without objections by responsible endoscopy personnel.

Conclusion In this interventional study, applying sustainability measures to a real-world scenario, RMW reduction and daily recycling were achieved and sustained over time, without compromising endoscopy productivity.

  • endoscopy

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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