Waste officer Cindy Bird.
Photo: ANDREW
PERRYMAN

Bendigo Health’s waste officer Cindy Bird is ambitious when it comes to recycling.

About 83,000 kilograms of recyclable waste has been collected from the Barnard Street site in the past 12 months.

Some innovative recycling measures are being introduced, thanks to Ms Bird’s ingenuity, that she hopes will boost the amount the hospital recycles.

Hospital bed curtains, ubiquitous across the health service, are changed every 12 months and are sold to Bendigo Health as being recyclable.

A baler arrived last week to Bendigo Health allowing for these curtains to finally be recycled.

“We work with Replas in Ballarat, who can make the curtains into tables and chairs,” Ms Bird said.

Since commencing in her role last November, Ms Bird has been on a mission to recycle more e-waste, ahead of the July 1 ban on e-waste to landfill.

“Since I started, we have recycled 150kg of small batteries from medical equipment with Battery World in Bendigo,” she said. And it doesn’t stop there.

Printer cartridges, soft plastics and PVC are also on the recycling champion’s hit list and there’s plenty more that can be done.

“Statewide, 45 per cent of what went to landfill could be recycled,” Ms Bird said.

One of the challenges is in education and getting staff, patients and visitors to put the right things in the right bins.

Nurses have been particularly astute when it comes to recycling, Ms Bird said.

“Nurses want to see everything recycled, they even bring little things to me and ask me if they can be recycled,” she said.

With Bendigo Health creating a total of 626,272kg of waste at Barnard Street, of which 471,000 is general waste, there is scope to do more.

“Our strategic plan is to reduce waste to landfill by 2023… I want zero waste,” Ms Bird said. She joked that her job title should reflect her latest mission.

“I’d like to change my title to recycling officer. Not waste officer. We don’t want to waste anything,” Ms Bird jested.

With Plastic Free July just weeks away, there will be a renewed push to reduce plastic use, with only two per cent of soft plastics in Australia being recycled.

Bendigo Health is working with Cleanaway to recycle soft plastics, which are used extensively in packaging.

When asked why recycling is so important, Ms Bird had a pragmatic answer.

“Climate change and the world. Eaglehawk Landfill won’t be open forever.”

– Nicholas Nakos