Small changes make a big environmental impact at CNAH

At more than 130 years old, Calvary North Adelaide Hospital is proving age is not a barrier to going green, halving its waste sent to landfill nearly overnight with a few simple changes.

Calvary North Adelaide Hospital’s Green Team Chair, Rob Hutchinson, said staff and patients were the secret to the hospital’s environmental success.

“We doubled the amount of recycling overnight by simply increasing the size and number of recycling bins we have. But that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of stakeholders. The enthusiasm from patients and staff has made such a big difference,” Mr Hutchinson said.

About the Green Team

The Green Team began in 2021, firstly increasing the number of recycling bins in the hospital, and then introducing green bins.

As a result, Calvary North Adelaide Hospital collected 50 metric tonnes of compostable materials during the 2023 financial year, with items including hand towels turned into garden products.

“When we started recycling, the hospital was diverting about 30 per cent of its waste from landfill and now we’re diverting 70 per cent,”

Calvary North Adelaide Hospital Waste Coordinator, Christopher Peach, said the main roadblock the team had faced was the heritage-listed building forcing the Green Team to think outside the box.

“When you’re working with a 130-year-old hospital you are limited with what you can do with your infrastructure, but there are options and different initiatives you can try that will make a difference,” Mr Peach said.

“We have a lot of passionate people at Calvary North Adelaide Hospital and that is why we’ve been so successful. We have representatives from all areas of the hospital that make up the Green Team and they make sure their teams know about any new initiatives or share ideas on where we can do better.”

Getting staff involved is crucial to the hospital’s efforts in going green, and almost 40 per cent of Calvary North Adelaide Hospital’s waste is produced in theatres.

“We have around 15 to 20 members of the Green Team representing all areas of the hospital and this has been invaluable. Now we have eyes everywhere and while we may not be there in person to encourage our initiatives in theatres for example, one of our members is there making sure we are doing what we can to reduce our impact on the environment,” Mr Hutchinson said.

The Harmony Garden Projects

an outdoor green waste garden

The Green Team has also used its recycling efforts to give back to the hospital. The team has embraced initiatives including the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), using the raised funds to help create green spaces across the hospital.

“We’ve completed a number of Harmony Garden projects so staff can go, relax and have a time out. This is coupled with a herb garden paid for with the CDS funds,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“Recycling is quite easy and when worthwhile projects come out of it, like our gardens, it can make a huge difference.”

Looking ahead, the Calvary North Adelaide Hospital Green Team will be trialling other new initiatives to continue reducing the hospital’s environmental impact. A trial of a bamboo nappies is already underway, and staff will soon test compostable gloves in certain settings.

“It has been really encouraging to see such a big change at Calvary North Adelaide Hospital in such a short amount of time. It has become a bit of a beacon to our other Calvary sites to make a difference,” Mr Hutchinson added.