One of the most instantly recognizable emblems of the past pandemic year is the discarded surgical mask: ground into mud at the edge of a walking path, caught in the branches of a tree, tangled around a seabird’s legs. Thanks to the pandemic, the waste and disposability associated with modern healthcare are more visible to the public than ever before.
In fact, the healthcare system is responsible for an estimated 1 to 5 percent of all environmental impacts from human activities worldwide. Healthcare accounts for an average of 5.5 percent of carbon emissions in China, India, and the 37 market economies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to a 2019 analysis. The same analysis estimated that healthcare in those countries amounts to 4.4 percent of global emissions overall—more than aviation or shipping. . .
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