Caring for the environment as well as patients has led to Hawke's Bay Hospital anaesthetic technician Peter Young being dubbed the "Recycling King" for his efforts to promote waste recycling at the hospital's surgical services department.
For the past three years Young has taken it upon himself to keep the department's staff on their toes ensuring everything that could be recycled was recycled, and his positive attitude and sense of humour has rubbed off on the theatre team, who were making great strides, he said.
While there were recycling bins for general waste, paper and cardboard and plastics, a focus was ensuring items such as PVC IV fluid and oxygen tubing were disposed of appropriately so they could be recycled into alternative products.
"I get the odd surgeon who will throw a pair of gloves in a recycling bin meant for oxygen tubing or the likes, so I'll hunt them down in the tearoom and dangle the gloves in their face to give them a little telling off."
Another method he had devised to keep people in line was a scoring system.
After personally inspecting each recycling bin before preparing loads for collection, he awarded bin scores on a scale from A+ down - depending on what he found.
Little personal notes dotted around also ensured people were doing the right thing.
"The girls in recovery are great, they do a fab job – it's an A+ for them at the minute," he said.
The Hawke's Bay DHB's recycling programme for PVC products, which other wards and departments also participated in, was a product stewardship programme set up by Baxter Health Care, which supplied the DHB with various medical products.
PVC recycling was collected and sent to Matta Products, which produced safety matting for the likes of playgrounds and swimming pools.
In 2017 Baxter had 62 hospitals in Australia and 28 hospitals in New Zealand collecting PVC. They produced 10 tonnes of PVC for recycling per month.
PVC items being recycled include IV fluid bags, oxygen masks and oxygen tubing.
As of late last year, Baxter began recycling aluminium anaesthetic bottles – 50 bottles, for example, could be recycled into one aluminium bicycle frame.
Property and service contracts manager Andrea Beattie said Hawke's Bay District Health Board was making an organisation-wide shift in waste minimisation.
"Peter's enthusiasm and dedication is so fantastic – he is doing such an amazing job in surgical services," she said.
"Hospitals are often described as small cities, so if we can do our bit to ensure we are effectively managing our waste flows within our hospital and health centre environments, then that will have a positive flow-on effect of reducing waste to landfill and costs associated with that."