After my investigation on the processes in place and the high levels of waste within NSW hospitals, I examined current advanced technologies they have implemented. Some of the standard practices they are undertaking daily, yet have not been updated by these new technologies.
I believe a machinery sorting process within the bins of the hospitals could identify organic waste opportunities for innovative recycling, involving products such as grains, seeds and cores.
One of the first processes that could enjoy the benefits of future organic waste recycling is 3D printing. The way of the future in medicine is 3D printing body parts; which was first introduced in Australia in 2011 when Dr Marc Coughlan placed a 3D printed implant between a woman’s vertebrae to alleviate her of excruciating pain that no other process could resolve without involving a 95% chance of severing her spine.
The shredded waste of organic qualities such as seeds could be mixed with a form of sand that is used in 3D print moulding. Not only would this save on the high cost of this powder, it extends the lifecycle of the original waste and would introduce a denser quality to the powder, that in turn requires less liquid setting to form the limbs or parts.
There are even future opportunities for more of the waste, such as the skin of a mandarin, to be melted or scratched to a grain – as current 3D printing uses products such as textiles and resins as well as sand and powder. The results are endless, creating a complete lifecycle: from a piece of organic waste consumed by a human that could help create a custom-designed prosthetic finger that they use.
The system to create these opportunities from the organic waste would simply need to condense and grate the food into a granular, sand-type product. In the case of fruit skins, this is not too much work due to its tough quality already. The dissected food product would then be combined with either the powder or sand already on the market for 3D printing. Besides giving back to the environment and reducing general waste, the hospital would also reduce the amount of 3D printing material required to purchase. In addition, the organic food waste product would add bulk to the sand and allow it to stretch further, allowing more 3D products to be created with it.
The other process that could be used within NSW hospitals with organic waste collected would involve categorising the organic waste through a sorting bin. With this process, it could remove the key vitamins and essential oils in the food thrown away, such as banana skin, and use it to contribute to products such as saline solution used to re-hydrate patients. At the very least, these invaluable resources within organic waste can be transformed into capsule supplements, similar to ones already on the market today. For example, a banana has Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Folate (folic acid). The benefits of the vitamins in the skin could be used to further improve the health of the original consumer (patients), as opposed to simply decomposing in general waste.
Guilliatt, Richard, 2016, The shape of things to come, News website, The Australian, Surry Hills, Accessed 11th June 2016, < http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/special-features/3d-printing-human-organs-it-suddenly-doesnt-seem-so-far-off/news-story/4049e55e4225c3da2a27752f09cf612a>
Sculpteo, 2016, 3D Printers and 3D Printing: Technologies, Processes and Techniques, Villejuif, France, Accessed 11th June 2016, < https://www.sculpteo.com/en/3d-printing/3d-printing-technologies/>