una clinica veterinaria sostenibile

A sustainable veterinary practice

Sustainability in veterinary medicine: is it possible? How to make veterinary sustainable? Let's look at some ways to make a veterinary practice sustainable

'Sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (United Nations 1987).

How can we act more responsibly towards the environment?

In the everyday reality of a veterinary practice it is very difficult to say ‘we recycle’. Many wastes are dangerous or anatomical waste that must be collected individually.

However, much more can be done within our capabilities and try to be a sustainable and eco-friendly veterinary practice.

I have always been attentive to the environmental issue.

At the beginning of my university career I was undecided whether to follow my passion for animals or for ecology and the environment.

Fortunately, one does not necessarily exclude the other.

I chose animal health but the interest in the environment and our ecological footprint has always attracted me.

Only when I started working in a practice I realized the amount of waste generated, the harmful chemicals used and the large amount of energy consumed for the daily running of a practice.

The veterinary profession is known for compassion for the natural world and all living things. We have the responsibility to lead an example for everyone and to do it with enthusiasm and energy starting with our little one to contribute together to a great positive change for the planet and all animals.

So how can we protect them?

In the veterinary sector, it is difficult to speak of eco-friendly if you think, above ,all the problem of the use of drugs.

One of the problems that comes from this, is certainly the increase in antibiotic resistance, both for animals and for us human beings.

Certainly, this is not the only cause but among the first places, we certainly find the unaware use of antibiotics.

This is obviously caused by general misinformation about it.

One of the causes of problems caused by antibiotic resistance in pets, however, is the poor management of the therapies by the owners who often stop the administration before the deadline prescribed by the veterinary surgeon.

But is being more sustainable good for a veterinary practice?

Sometimes when you think of sustainable/eco-friendly/biodegradable, you automatically think of the price. Indeed, certain eco-friendly products are considered a luxury, precisely because of the exaggerated cost. 

This obviously is part of a much larger paradox that we cannot overturn on our own.

What is the real cost on the planet?

Furthermore, in medicine, it is very difficult for something to be ‘reusable’ and not disposable. The sterility of many tools used for therapies is guaranteed precisely by the disposable and individual plastic wrapping. However, it is possible to reuse specially sterilized gowns and drapes, as well as surgical towels and hats.

So how to reduce the waste of a veterinary practice?

These are purely general advice and guidance intended to inform and make available some information. Some of these practices may be trivial or may not be practicable for all veterinary practices.

A sustainable veterinary practice

una clinica veterinaria sostenibile

Reduce and reuse the paper

Which translates to:

  • Make sure that the paper used is recyclable;
  • Always print ‘front-back’ and take advantage of all the sheets you use. A tip may be to print the patient’s medical record on the back of the owner’s consent in order to use fewer sheets and have everything more orderly;
  • Do not print urine and blood tests but consult them directly from the computer and forward them via email to the owners;
  • Make the most of technology.

Introduce bins for separate collection

This means:

  • Introduce recycling bins in different areas of the practice so that, tempted by laziness, you don’t risk throwing everything in the undifferentiated because it is the closest bin;
  • Make sure that colleagues know the directives for recycling, usually special for medical practices;
  • Reduce the opening of the bins so that people have time to think about what they are doing before turning the entire contents of a basket upside down.


Improve waste management

Making sure that a veterinary practice’s waste management is efficient is the first step towards sustainable practice.

Many wastes are classified as special or extraordinary. Anatomical waste, for example, but also pieces and batteries of special machinery and dangerous medicines must be recycled critically.

The packaging problem also affects pet food.

Single-dose bags of dry food are often made of plastic covered with a silver interior. By removing the remains of food it is possible to collect them with plastic. Be careful though, because not in all neighborhoods it is so and the directives change from state to state.

If your practice also supplies dog food, inquire about ways to collect the bags of feed offered as a collection site and contact an entity that is responsible for disposing of or reusing and recycling these materials responsibly.

In England, Terracycle deals with collecting and recycling pet food containers and thus giving them a second life.

una clinica veterinaria

Shop in bulk

Bulk buy is essential to reduce the number of packaging and cut prices.

Just think of all the hand sanitizer containers that, especially in this period, but which are always present in veterinary practices, are used.

If we reduced ourselves to the purchase of a container and portioner and a large container of tens of litres, not only the costs would be lower but also the disposal of the plastic of the container would be reduced to a minimum.

Invest in a water filter

Fundamental in a veterinary practice, it is the purified water used for the autoclave.

Buying a water purifier is one of the things that can immediately make your practice greener.

In this, the price of the purifier will be cut down in no time. It will cut the costs of bottles of purified water (which you must also remember to order) and will significantly decrease the consumption of plastic.

By purchasing a filter for drinking water it will be possible to use it freely without using plastic bottles.

Keep a record of orders and warehouse of medicines

One of the things that happen most often is to throw out expired medicines.

A more careful organization of the orders and reserves available in the warehouse makes it easier to manage spaces and useful things.

Helpful can be to organize the products on the shelves in order of expiry and to attach a big sticker on the things that expire in the current month.

Regularly check the circuits of anaesthesia and other machinery

Make sure that there are no leaks in the circuit, in the breathing and purification system and that everything is efficient, it is very important. The emissions created by the ecological footprint of anaesthesia medicines add to those of the ecological footprint of a veterinary practice.

Other measures are: avoid prolonged and unnecessary anaesthesia and implement your anaesthesia circuit.

una clinica veterinaria

Be energy efficient

Investing in making practice energy efficient is a point in favour of the environment and the wallet. Like all initial investments seem disproportionate but in the long run, everyone will benefit.


  • Replace exhausted bulbs with LED bulbs, with minimal consumption and very long life.
  • Invest in a washing machine with very low consumption and high loads and a latest-generation water boiler.
  • Recycle electronic devices that are no longer able to support the workload of a veterinary practice, donating them to voluntary associations;
  • Evaluate the implementation of your energy system with solar panels that, with an initial expense, guarantee large cuts on your bills. Especially for structures that use electrical machinery during all hours of light of the day (and beyond).

Other tips:

  • Install sensors or timers for lights or sensitize colleagues and owners to remember to close the switch;
  • Disconnect monitors and computers overnight;
  • Disconnect occasionally used machinery from the power;
  • Start the washing machine only fully loaded and hang the laundry outside when possible.

Discard the coffee machines

Introducing a home coffee machine and providing cups is ideal if you don’t have a small kitchen available. Even a small fridge or a pantry dedicated to snack will help to reduce the plastic consumption due to the packaging of snacks and lunches of the machines.

Support eco-friendly suppliers

Note the suppliers and delivery services with an entrepreneurial program aimed at the future: of the company, of the planet, of everyone’s well-being.

Support companies that guarantee low CO2 emissions during their deliveries by optimizing routes, offering reduced packaging and whose packaging can be recycled.


These are purely general advice and guidance intended to inform and make available some information. Some of these practices may be trivial or may not be practicable for all veterinary practices.

I decided to write this article to inspire you, colleagues and anyone who comes across this blog.

In order not to give up at the start and take the easy way out of laziness. 

To sensitize also our leaders and predecessors and involve them with the enthusiasm that characterizes us young veterinarian and all other sectors.

Do you have other ideas or do you want to tell the experience of your sustainable clinic?

Comment this article or write me on my Fb or Instagram channels or to my email erica.assistent@gmail.com














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