Sustainability in Dental Practices

Numerous straightforward and practical steps are available for practice owners and staff to enhance their environmental practices.

The Workplace

The current global focus on environmental sustainability urges nations and organizations to pursue carbon neutrality and adopt initiatives like renewable energy and waste reduction. Our collective actions, both individually and within our workplaces, play a critical role in achieving meaningful environmental impact.

Recycling in the Office

While recycling is often a routine at home, it may not be as consistent in workplaces, including dental practices. Despite constraints in the healthcare sector, dental offices can still contribute by utilizing designated council bins for waste, recycling, and green waste. For detailed guidelines on sorting items for each bin, consult your local council’s website for specific instructions.

Many professionals might recall the optimistic vision of a paperless office with the advent of computers, but in reality, significant paper waste persists. Proper disposal of paper, ensuring any confidential information is securely shredded, is essential before recycling.

Here are simplified recommendations:

  • Place a labeled bin for paper recycling in a convenient office location; when full, transfer contents to the designated recycling bin.
  • Opt for double-sided printing whenever feasible, or reuse single-sided sheets for internal purposes.
  • Consider using A5 paper or cutting A4 sheets in half to reduce costs and increase reusability.
  • Recycle printer cartridges at office supply stores such as Officeworks.
  • Use refilled ink cartridges and recycled printing paper.
  • Check recyclability of soft plastics (e.g., magazine wraps) through programs like REDcycle.

Dispose of electronic waste like old printers at designated collection points rather than landfilling, adhering to waste disposal policies.

Recycle fluorescent bulbs and batteries, and prefer rechargeable batteries over single-use ones.

Opt for digital receipts rather than printing them.

The Staff Room

Waste generated in staff rooms mirrors household waste patterns.

If recycling hasn’t been implemented in your staff room, consider auditing current waste practices to identify opportunities for improvement.

Here are practical suggestions:

  • Introduce labeled bins for recycling (e.g., for rinsed containers and green waste) and consider council-provided kitchen bins for food scraps.
  • Identify and recycle appropriate hard plastics.
  • Recycle soft plastics at supermarket collection points like REDcycle or YCA.

Encourage the use of reusable coffee cups at local cafes instead of disposable containers. By applying similar recycling practices from home, such as recycling glass, metal, paper, and plastics, we can enhance sustainability efforts in the workplace. Ensure plastics are correctly identified before recycling, as not all types are accepted in standard council bins.

Some supermarkets offer recycling options for specific plastics through programs like REDcycle and YCA recycling. These initiatives transform clean recyclable plastics into high-quality materials for new products, significantly reducing environmental impact given the extended lifespan of plastics.