Green Health Care
Health care systems around the world are facing new challenges, being forced to adapt to the ‘New Normal’. Clearly, patient care is the primary aim of the health sector, but is it possible to regain a broader focus on sustainability and circularity as well? In the third episode of the webinar series “Making the Circular Economy Real”, Dutch and Canadian organizations spoke about circular economy initiatives in the health care sector.
Neil Ritchie, Executive Director of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care moderated the session. He started off by giving the floor to Anne Le Guellec, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto, for some opening remarks. Le Guellec mentioned that life sciences, health and the circular economy are focus themes in the collaboration between Canada and the Netherlands guided by the Sustainable Development Goals.
The importance of the supply chain
Neil Ritchie talked about the activities of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care and how the healthcare sector could take in circular economy practices. He mentioned that Canada and the Netherlands are close allies and global leaders in advancing the circular economy. In Canada, the change towards a circular economy in the health sector is driven by climate change.
The largest component of health care’s environmental footprint is the supply chain, but there are challenges in moving the supply chain to become more circular, including the need to change procurement policies and the need for competitive business models that enable sustainability. Health care leaders experience a lack of understanding of the circular economy and have many competing priorities.
One of the initiatives of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care to overcome these challenges is the implementation of an online sharing market place.
Sustainable PPE solutions
Marianne Dawson, Sustainability Consultant at Vancouver Coastal Health, gave a brief overview on the spread of the corona virus in British Columbia. She gave insights in the impact of COVID-19 on the purchasing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Vancouver Coastal Health.
Before the pandemic, disposable PPE was about 10 per cent of the garbage waste stream of the organization, but with the increase of purchases of PPE, this percentage has gone up. This asks for a shift to more circular and sustainable PPE solutions. Dawson mentioned that existing partners have increased their capacity to wash reusable gowns for example and that new collaborations have been established with local suppliers to supplement supply.
A better understanding of the co-benefits from other initatives that sprung to life during the pandemic is needed to move forward to a more circular recovery and the embedding of sustainability in other departments of the organization.
Transparency is key
Lieke van Kerkhoven, co-founder of FLOOW2, the marketplace to share knowledge in health care and promoting the circular economy, spoke about the development of FLOOW2 and its vision to create a global network of health care organizations to facilitiate the sharing of medical resource equipment.
Transparency, essential to make supply and demand visible, appeared to be an issue for private companies that did not want to disclose competitive information to their competitors and for (semi-)public companies did not want to disclose idle capacities for fear of public shaming. This lead to the concept of closed communities to address these challenges. Currently, more organizations are open to transparent sharing of information because of extra cost savings, less waste and spillage and the improvement of collaboration.
Real business opportunities
The last speaker was Eric Pothion, Senior Marketing Manager supporting the Health Care Systems portfolio and Sustainability Ambassador at Philips Canada. He shared Philips’ sustainability strategy, with a focus on circular economy, supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.
With regards driving the shift, Pothion said that it is important to stress that the transition to circularity presents real business opportunities, as a lot of stakeholders still view sustainability from an emotional perspective. You need data to support the arguments for sustainability. A major opportunity is the attraction and retention of talents. Pothion said that when it comes to sustainability in Canada, Philips is still in the stage of raising awareness. However, behaviours are changing fast.
The session ended with a panel discussion where each panellist talked about the role that their respective governments have played in setting the policies towards advancing the circular economy.
- With files from Kartik Moorthy
Want to watch the full episode?
To watch the full recording of the third webinar, please click here.
The webinar “Green Health Care” is part of the series “Making the Circular Economy Real”, organized by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Toronto and Canada Circular Hotspot. Key objectives of the webinar series are increasing participant’s knowledge, expanding networks, showing the circular economy in real world action and inspiring the development of new circular economy projects in Ontario and across Canada.