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Recycling project with a difference launched in Dentistry

Tuesday, 5 December 2017 8:47pm

toothbrushes-small-image
Toothbrush done its dash? Take it to the Dental School for recycling.

Dentistry Senior Lecturer Dorothy Boyd has an unusual goal. She would like to see a bench placed in the new Dental School building: A bench made entirely of recycled toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps and other oral health waste.

The vision is a good one, and, together with fourth year student James Jin, she is coordinating a project to recycle this waste, in conjunction with Colgate and Terracycle.

Recycling boxes have been placed around the Dental Faculty – and she is encouraging all staff, students and the Dunedin public to use them.

“When you have finished using your toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrush and toothpaste outer packaging and floss containers, just bring them in and drop them in one of the collection boxes around the Faculty.”

Once collected, the oral health waste will be sent to Terracycle, where it will be cleaned and melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled products such as bags, park benches and rubbish bins.

"When you have finished using your toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrush and toothpaste outer packaging and floss containers, just bring them in and drop them in one of the collection boxes around the Faculty."

“Please bring in your waste because we send it off by the kilo – and the more we send in the more that can be achieved with this programme,” she says. “A primary school in the North Island had a park bench for their playground made out of oral care product recycling – wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have something similar in our new Dental School outdoor area.”

Mrs Boyd says that as New Zealand’s only dental school, Otago’s Faculty of Dentistry has a responsibility to lead the way in including environmental consideration in everything it does.

“This will then be a part of the education of dental students so will enable them to become part of the solution to the problems our planet faces,” she says.

Mrs Boyd says while she doesn’t believe recycling is ‘the answer’, it is a beginning.

“I think that having a recycling commitment enables conversations to take place that will reach further and deeper – and that the young minds that we have at Otago can be nurtured to develop solutions that us oldies may not even have thought of. The care of medical and dental patients involves an ever increased demand for higher levels of cross-infection control and utilisation of disposable items – I don’t like that, and know we need to have ways to keep up the excellent standards without carelessly producing and disposing of waste.”

Want to get involved?

The recycle boxes are in the following spots around the Faculty buildings:

  • 4th floor - 4N clinic
  • 3rd floor - "Drop in" lab
  • 2nd floor - reception
  • 1st floor - staff room
  • Ground floor café
  • Children’s Pavilion - SIM clinic