On the way to a green Intensive Care Unit

Alexander Santos Lima

You might not think it, but healthcare and Intensive Care Units (ICU) are very polluting. IC pharmacist Nicole Hunfeld started the project 'The Green Intensive Care', to make ICUs as sustainable and circular as possible. For this project, she won the EUR Sustainability Award 2021.

The Dutch healthcare sector, including ICUs, is responsible for 7 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions. Hunfeld strives for an ICU where no waste exists and raw materials are reused. To become as green and sustainable as possible, the IC will first map out how many materials and raw materials they currently use and what their impact on the environment is. "From there we can look for solutions. We also want to make smarter use of the raw materials that make up medication and products such as plasters, needles and so on," says Hunfeld. 

Sustainability checklist

Hunfeld wants to spend the prize money won on a video about the project. "By showing how we do it, we can inspire others to also go for a more sustainable way of working. I also want to develop a sustainability checklist for other green teams.”

Wider impact than just Erasmus MC

The jury is very enthusiastic about The Green Intensive Care. “The project has an impact on the environment within a very large sector, namely healthcare, and has the potential to have a broader impact than Erasmus MC alone," the jury said.  

About the Sustainability Award

The Sustainability Award is an award from Erasmus University Rotterdam and was presented for the first time this year during the Opening of the Academic Year 2021-2022. The award is intended for initiatives that contribute to the sustainability goals of the university and consists of a sum of 5000 euro.

Dr. Nicole Hunfeld is hospital pharmacist and project leader Sustainability/Green Team Intensive Care Adults at Erasmus MC. She is also a board member of the pharmacists' organisation KNMP. This article was published on erasmusmc.nl.

A box of gloves and 8 incontinence pads per patient per day: the hospital tackles its heap of waste 

Dutch Newspaper de Volkskrant recently devoted a report to 'The Green Intensive Care' and wrote the following: During the different coronavirus waves in Erasmus MC it struck me: 'We produce so much waste'. The healthcare sector is about as polluting as aviation. The Rotterdam intensive care unit has drawn up an ambitious plan to reduce emissions. Read the full Volkskrant article here (in dutch).

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