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A new life for hospital waste: project to find next uses

What if hospital waste could be broken down and used in agriculture or water treatment?

That’s the idea Australian researchers are working to make reality.

A team from Charles Sturt University, James Cook University (JCU) and the University of Queensland (UQ) are exploring ways to transform waste into something useful.

UQ Professor Linda Shields, a former theatre nurse, said 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,” she 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 be used for agriculture or water treatment.”

Associate Professor Michael Oelgemöller, a chemist at JCU, was looking at ways to covert and treat the waste.

“Hospital waste represents an interesting resource and may be converted into low-to-medium value products such as fertilisers or adsorbents,” Oelgemöller said. “The goal would be to turn this waste into an income stream.”

The research team is now seeking out additional funding to explore what’s needed for large-scale waste conversions.

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