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How to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Waste in Medical & Dental Offices

In medical and dental offices, single-use plastics are easy and convenient. Although this may be true, the continuous use of these plastics increases the carbon footprint, making it detrimental to the earth. Without the earth, we won’t need medical or dental offices, right?

The pandemic has forced everyone to take a long, hard look at the way things are done. As items become scarce, the need to re-use products becomes a priority. In turn, this creates new opportunities to recycle, reduce waste, and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.

As a result, medical and dental offices have begun using face shields as part of their personal protective equipment.

What are face shields?

Face shields are protective masks healthcare workers now use for extra protection. They are especially important in medical and dental facilities due to close contact procedures taking place and more effective in the prevention and spread of bacteria and viruses. Created with PETG thermoplastic polyester, the shield covers the entire face to avoid splatter from either party. One of the benefits of using face shields is that they can be sanitized for continual reuse.

Tru-Form Plastics provides three different styles of face shields: standard, deluxe and industrial. Advantages of these face shields:

  • Can be sanitized for continual reuse
  • Lightweight and can be worn for long periods
  • Does not fog up
  • Additional foam pad provides additional ventilation
  • PETG does not break down in UV light
  • Plastic is much thicker than others

Cleaning and sanitizing face shields

Properly cleaning a face shield without ruining it is key. Additionally, ensuring the cleaning agent is sterile enough to sanitize the face shield is important. Each medical and dental facility using face shields should have a cleaning protocol in place on how to do this. The use of a mild liquid detergent along with a soft cloth or sponge works well. The face shield must be thoroughly rinsed and dried with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth.

If the shield is cleaned with a surface disinfectant, it may leave a residue, which makes it ineffective for use. If alcohol wipes are used, all directions should be followed to ensure the shield is dry and residue-free.

Removing single-use plastics from medical facilities

Single-use plastics help prevent infection in medical and dental offices. They are also affordable and convenient for staff and patients. In order to get a handle on the harm being done to the environment, alternative uses must become a priority. Here are a few ways single-use plastics can be removed:

  • Cups – Plastic cups are very sanitary and widely used throughout medical and dental facilities. Switching from plastic to paper will help.
  • Toothpaste tube and floss containers – While plastic tubes are used and distributed in dental offices, advising the staff and patients to recycle their plastics after use can help cut waste and reduce harm to the environment.
  • Plastic tips – These are used for air, water and suction but can be switched out for reusable sterile ones.
  • Plastic barrier sleeves – These sleeves are used to cover air and water syringes to prevent cross-contamination but are usually one use. Finding an alternative for this would be key.
  • Propylaxis angles – These are the cups that hold toothpaste for polishing. In most cases, they are disposable rubber. By switching to metal or recycled plastic that can be reused, this will help in reducing plastic waste.

Dental and medical professionals have a lot to consider while providing the best care and safety for their patients. As a whole, the healthcare industry can work on doing their part to prevent the use of single-use plastics and help protect the environment. These professionals have a duty to help protect the environment and are favorably viewed among their patients when going green. In time, the cost savings will outweigh the extra efforts and will help in creating sustainable practices in their facilities.

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