Emergency medical services (EMS) and waste: a review of the literature on sustainable EMS waste management

Andrew Nichols
Monday, November 2, 2015

Waste management contributes significantly to the financial costs and carbon footprints of healthcare organisations, thus contributing to climate change and subsequent harm to health. Increasing efficiencies and the introduction of sustainable waste management practice within healthcare organisations, including emergency medical services (EMS), could reduce associated CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions while reducing costs, enabling funding to be reinvested in patient care.This article aims to contribute to the discussion of sustainable healthcare waste management, particularly within EMS, and provides a review of the literature on this topic. The literature suggests there is a growing interest among EMS in the efficient use of resources and there has been some gradual change in practice, including the introduction of sustainable waste management practices. The literature also reveals that empirical research discussing greenhouse gas emissions associated with EMS is limited, particularly in regard to waste management. The evidence indicates that there is scope for further research investigating the environmental impacts of EMS. Such research could specifically investigate the CO2 emissions associated with EMS waste management and interventions that might reduce these emissions, with the potential sequelae of cost savings or income generation.

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