What is PVC Recycling In Hospitals?

The PVC Recycling in Hospitals program is an initiative of the Vinyl Council of Australia and is proudly sponsored by Baxter Healthcare. It aims to collect high-quality, used PVC medical products for recycling into useful new products. The program began as a pilot at Western Health in Victoria in 2009 and has since grown to encompass over 90 hospitals across Australia and New Zealand.

How Does It Work?

When a hospital signs up to start PVC recycling they're provided with recycling bins, posters and training material for staff. Nurses separate three PVC products for this recycling program: IV fluid bags, oxygen tubing and oxygen masks. However if these products are contaminated with bodily fluids or harmful medications e.g. chemotherapy, they must be disposed of into the appropriate waste bins.

What is PVC?

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a polymer derived from oil and salt – and is a plastic widely used in clinical applications for over 40 years. It may be identified on products or packaging by the Plastics Identification Code ‘3’. Common healthcare products include IV fluid bags and blood bags, oxygen tubing and facemasks.

Plastics are a significant share of hospital general waste. It has been estimated that all plastics account for about one third of a hospital’s general waste, most of which is sent to landfill. Of all plastic waste generated by a hospital, PVC medical products are estimated to represent about 25 per cent.

Why Should My Hospital Recycle PVC?

Everyday clinicians are making an important contribution to patient health. With the PVC Recycling In Hospitals program, clinicians can also contribute to the health of our environment. Recycling PVC is quite easy, with over 90 hospitals across Australia and New Zealand already participating. Recycling PVC can be cheaper than disposing to regular waste .

Generally, about 30 per cent of waste within operating theatres and intensive care units is infectious; the remainder is dealt with as general waste and sent to landfill. Recycling clean PVC instead of putting it into waste bins can lead to positive environmental outcomes and may reduce the costs of hospital waste management.

Environmental Outcomes

Reduced Energy

Recycling plastics saves energy and conserves valuable raw material resources. A recycled plastic product (including PVC) has approximately one quarter of the embodied energy compared to an equivalent product made with virgin resin.

Reduced Carbon Footprint

A lifecycle assessment conducted by the University of NSW showed that recycling PVC fluid bags instead of disposing them in either clinical or general waste resulted in a carbon footprint reduction.

Recycling vs. Disposal in Clinical Waste


Recycling PVC in comparison to incineration can result in a 77% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Recycling vs. Disposal in General Waste


Recycling PVC in comparison to landfill can result in an 18% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Waste Management Savings

Reduce Waste Management Costs

The PVC Recovery In Hospitals program may help your ward or hospital to reduce waste management costs by diverting PVC from the more expensive disposal options of clinical waste and general waste.

Support Jobs and Manufacturing

Further, when you recycle PVC you are doing the right thing by preventing quality reusable materials going to landfill. You are also supporting local jobs and manufacturing as your PVC gets a new life as hose or safety mats.

Which Are the Best Areas to Pilot PVC Recycling?

Hospitals already involved in the program agree Theatre/Recovery, ICU and Dialysis are the best areas to start with. These areas are relatively controlled environments and they also use a lot of PVC that is clean after use.

Recycling bins provided


Vinyl Council Australia

Information on
the VCA


Information on
Baxter Healthcare


Information on
Matta Products


Information on
Welvic Products

See how you can get started recycling PVC in your hospital!