Sally Richardson - midwife and sustainability award winner

A couple of years ago, when Sally Richardson, a midwife of 30 years, looked around her workplace at the Angliss Hospital Birthing Unit, there was little evidence recycling waste products was a priority. Although there was a recycling bin provided by the health service, neither Sally nor her colleagues were actively sorting the waste and most was going to landfill.

Inspired by the ANMF (Vic Branch) Health and Environmental Sustainability Conference, Sally channelled her energy into setting up a recycling program at work. With the support of her nurse unit manager Sally purchased recycling bins for all the patient rooms, set up explanatory display boards, ran staff information sessions and made sure recycling was part of orientation for new staff.

With Sally’s enthusiasm, recycling gained the support of colleagues and has grown to include comingled (cardboard, paper, bottles, plastics etc), PVC, battery and Kimguard recycling. Sally has also helped other units including the postnatal ward, special care nursery and antenatal care to recycle by providing them with bins and educating staff.

Acknowledging her hard work, done in her own time, last year Sally was awarded both the Angliss Hospital and Eastern Health sustainability awards.

Sally is now working with other wards, but she says it’s a long process as nurses and midwives are so busy. She suggests health services invest more resources into recycling because the reduction in clinical and landfill waste and the economic benefits are just too good.

‘Having a dedicated environmental sustainability officer who understands how hospital units, systems and staff work would be a great start because then things could be better coordinated.’

ANMF (Vic Branch) is committed to supporting the work of nurses and midwives behind environmental sustainability projects at their workplaces. If you work at Eastern Health and want to connect with Sally, or want to become more involved in sustainability at your workplace, email: