Waste management for home patients


Minimising waste in the home HD setting comes down to some simple common-sense thinking.

While it is not possible to recycle things like dialysers and blood lines in the home setting, it is possible to recycle dialysate bottles, cardboard boxes and much of the packaging from dialysis supplies.


Hard plastics, cardboard and paper

Consider putting these in your standard co-mingled recycling bin for your local council to collect. If you find that you are generating more recycling than you can fit in one bin, ask your Council if you can have another one (your PD nurse or doctor can write you a letter of support if needed).

Cardboard can be re-cycled at almost all Transfer Stations in pretty much every town or city. Some will even pay for a pack of weighed, tied cardboard – see how your local supermarket does the same … although now that plastic bags have been phased out at most small chain supermarkets and (soon) at the big two – Coles and Woolworths – too, cardboard boxes are becoming a demand item in the checkout cages at local outlets and you may be able to do a deal with your local supermarket manager to take them off your hands.

Lots of things can be done with used cardboard.

There are a myriad of on-line sites that have craft ideas and other uses, though admittedly there is just so much ‘craft’ a dialysis patient can do!

Gardens like cardboard. It keeps down the weeds, it acts as a good mulch for the hot summer months, and it can be used in interesting ways – like to assist with starting up a permaculture system at home.


Soft plastics other than PVC

RED Group, a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation, has developed and implemented the REDcycle Program, a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic. RED Group has teamed up with Coles and Woolworths to make it easy for you to keep your plastic bags and soft plastic packaging out of landfill.

There are now over 830 REDcycle drop-off points across Australia.

Consider putting your household and dialysis soft plastics aside then dropping them off at a participating Coles or Woolworth’s store when you are near one.


Baxter PVC recycling program for PD patients

Baxter – the largest of the home PD companies – has developed a recycling program in Australia for used plastic dialysate bags and lines. The recycling program is open to patients living in metropolitan areas and whose therapy is provided by Baxter. Ask your PD nurse whether you are able to participate. If so, you will be provided with a PVC recycling bin for stockpiling of PVC items – Baxter will collect this from your home when they drop off your supplies.

Read the PVC recycling case study detailing this Baxter initiative. Baxter (ANZ) is to be congratulated for this innovation, though this link primarily describes the partnership between Baxter and the Vinyl Council of Australia for the recycling of general hospital PVC waste, and does not specifically relate to dialysis.

Unfortunately, no such national and coordinated program yet exists for the more waste-generative facility-based and/or home-based HD programs.

In ANZ, around 4 of every 5 dialysis patients use HD, not PD, as their chosen modality. The lack of coordinated waste disposal in HD seems to remain a barrier too high – yet, the potential benefits are huge.


Other waste

Talk with your consumables supplier. Suggest they might assist with waste removal in addition to consumable delivery. If enough end-users make enough ‘noise’ about the problems of waste disposal in home programs, suppliers may begin to listen … and act.