* Research aims to turn hospital waste into an agricultural or water treatment product
* Hospitals could make money from their waste
* Researchers seek funding to convert research into large-scale conversions
A landmark research study is close to a breakthrough that would turn hospital waste into a product that can be used in agriculture or water treatment.
Researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU), James Cook University and the University of Queensland are working with a Queensland hospital on a new way of treating hospital waste.
CSU Professor of Rural Health, Linda Shields (pictured), from the Institute of Land, Water and Society, is leading the research.
Professor Shields said with the hit ABC show War on Waste highlighting the issue, hospital waste should not be ignored.
“Hospitals generate a huge amount of waste and the focus of our research is to turn that waste into a resource,” Professor Shields said.
“The project is working on a new way to treat waste using a method of breaking it down to produce a safe, char-like material which could possibly be used for agriculture or water treatment.”
Professor Shields said she was previously a nurse in an operating theatre and said volumes of medical waste are huge and included plastics and textiles that can be used only once.
Associate Professor Michael Oelgemöller, a chemist at James Cook University in Townsville, is investigating sustainable waste treatment and conversion methods.
“Hospital waste represents an interesting resource and may be converted into low- to medium-value products such as fertilizers or adsorbents,” he said.
“The goal would be to turn this waste into an income stream.”
Professor Shields said the project had been funded by Charles Sturt University, Research Seed Grants, James Cook University, and the University of Queensland, but further funding was needed.
“We are at the stage where we need additional funding to look at what is needed to do this for large-scale hospital waste conversions,” she said.