Plastic Waste: A Mounting Concern
Each year, nine million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, causing a series of problems for marine wildlife and the surrounding ecosystems. Unfortunately, this situation is only getting worse. By 2025, the amount of plastic entering the ocean is estimated to double, which translates into the equivalent of 10 full bags of plastic per every foot of coastline.
Because plastic is versatile, inexpensive and readily available, the world’s consumption of it has grown exponentially over the years—with health care being no exception—leading to ever-increasing quantities of waste. As a result, our oceans and wildlife are paying the price.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic waste kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fish. Aquatic birds, such as albatross, often mistake colorful plastic for their own food and are dying because of it. Other marine life, including whales and sea lions, are also becoming entangled in plastic debris and ingesting it, leading to dire consequences. Plastic’s staying power makes the problem even worse as this durable and slow-to-degrade medium is believed to remain in marine environments for more than 450 years.
How Health Care Can Make Small Changes for Big Impacts
Without drastic action, plastic pollution will continue to advance this growing crisis, leading to irreversible damage to our oceans and surrounding environments. However, by making a commitment today to reducing plastic use, starting with little changes, we can begin to turn the tide and make a significant difference.
For example, when health care organizations create and maintain robust recycling programs, they can limit unnecessary waste going to landfills and waterways. It’s important to consider how to reuse certain supplies, for instance, leveraging reusable containers for medical waste disposal, to ultimately reduce the amount of plastic entering the environment.
We Can Help You Make a Difference
As the growing plastic pollution crisis continues to reveal alarming impacts, Stericycle is committed to helping health care organizations curb their plastic use. Our reusable sharps waste containers have kept the equivalent of one billion plastic water bottles out of the environment, and we are constantly working on new innovations to help organizations minimize their environmental impact. Let our commitment to sustainability help take your organization’s efforts to the next level.