Northern Ontario Circular Economy Symposium: Health Innovation
January 26, 2021 | Dr. Gary Bota
On January 19, 2021 speakers from Canada and abroad came together to speak about current and future opportunities of a circular economy in Northern Ontario. A circular economy refers to a system that reduces waste by reusing material in the creation of new products.
Dr. Gary Bota, who is the Chair of the Climate & Health Taskforce at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, as well as the Chair at CAPE-ON, discussed the circular economy and climate change in the context of health. From his presentation, several key considerations arose:
- Climate and health are tightly linked. There are multiple external factors that play a role in one’s health. However, due to changes in the climate, we are seeing consequences such as an increasing number of people with allergies, more children with zinc and other deficiencies, more heat-related illnesses and so on.
- The healthcare industry produces a lot of waste. For example, about 26 pounds of waste per day per patient is produced. About 30 per cent of this gets recycled, 60 per cent goes into the garbage, and about 10 per cent is biological waste, and it usually gets incinerated.
- There are ways to reduce waste in the healthcare industry. A local example is an anesthetist in Sudbury looked at the anesthetic gases used for patients and was able to rid of a greenhouse gas that was particularly bad. The result of removing one gas like that is the equivalent, at one hospital, of driving three million kilometers per year.
- Education is key and healthcare professionals play a role in this process.
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