Green Dialysis: The Environmental Challenges Ahead

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The US Environmental Protection Agency Resource Conservation website begins: “Natural resource and energy conservation is achieved by managing materials more efficiently—reduce, reuse, recycle,” yet healthcare agencies have been slow to heed and practice this simple message. In dialysis practice, notable for a recurrent, per capita resource consumption and waste generation profile second to none in healthcare, efforts to: (1) minimize water use and wastage; (2) consider strategies to reduce power consumption and/or use alternative power options; (3) develop optimal waste management and reusable material recycling programs; (4) design smart buildings that work with and for their environment; (5) establish research programs that explore environmental practice; all have been largely ignored by mainstream nephrology. Some countries are doing far better than others. In the United Kingdom and some European jurisdictions, exceptional recent progress has been made to develop, adopt, and coordinate eco-practice within dialysis programs. These programs set an example for others to follow. Elsewhere, progress has been piecemeal, at best. This review explores the current extent of “green” or eco-dialysis practices. While noting where progress has been made, it also suggests potential new research avenues to develop and follow. One thing seems certain: as global efforts to combat climate change and carbon generation accelerate, the environmental impact of dialysis practice will come under increasing regulatory focus. It is far preferable for the sector to take proactive steps, rather than to await the heavy hand of government or administration to force reluctant and costly compliance on the un-prepared.

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