In today's environmentally conscious world, the choices we make have far-reaching implications, in all sectors and walks of life. One of the significant decisions many businesses face is whether to opt for disposable or reusable items, not least medical professionals when making the choice of single use or reusable instruments. By making informed decisions, healthcare providers can contribute to a greener, more sustainable future and most likely save themselves money over time.
Reducing Plastic Waste
Reducing plastic waste is a key environmental concern and has been for many years. Using disposable medical instruments, often made from plastic, contribute significantly to the mounting global plastic waste crisis. This can include equipment such as forceps, dental explorers, syringes, trays and mouth props. Plastic versions of this type of item cannot be reused and cannot be sterilised, so have to be disposed of after just one use. Medical settings such as dental surgeries, veterinary practice and tattoo parlours can generate substantial plastic waste daily if they use single use instruments.
Reusable instruments, on the other hand, significantly reduce plastic waste. Typically, they are made from more durable materials such as stainless steel and can be sterilised to degrees hot enough to be used multiple times. By making the choice to transition to reusable instruments, healthcare professionals can make a tangible difference by curbing the influx of non-biodegradable materials into landfills and oceans.
Energy Conservation and Reducing Carbon Footprint
The very production of disposable medical instruments involves energy-intensive processes that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Reusable medical instruments, while requiring both production energy and energy for sterilisation for reuse, have a significantly lower overall carbon footprint because the number of items being initially manufactured becomes less. Utilising energy-efficient sterilisation methods and promoting responsible energy consumption further minimises the environmental impact from medical settings using reusable instruments.
Financial and Environmental Sustainability
In addition to the ecological benefits, transitioning to reusable instruments also promotes financial sustainability. While the initial investment in high-quality reusable instruments might seem substantial, the long-term savings are considerable, even with the costs for running sterilisation equipment. Whilst savings may not be seen overnight, they will certainly be seen over relatively short time frames once the ongoing costs for single use items have been reduced or removed entirely.
Making the choice between investing in reusable instruments vs disposable instruments in medical settings carries significant environmental implications. By embracing reusable instruments, healthcare professionals in settings such as dental surgeries, veterinary practices, tattoo parlours and podiatry/chiropody clinics can actively contribute to reducing plastic waste, conserving energy, and promoting saving themselves ongoing costs. As the world progresses towards a greener future, these small yet impactful choices can collectively make a substantial difference.