Australians could soon be filtering their water or growing their plants using recycled medical waste.
Charles Sturt University Professor and former theatre nurse Linda Shields says the project aims to address the huge volume of single-use plastics and textiles thrown out in Australian hospitals each day.
"The project is working on a new way to treat waste, using a method of breaking it down to produce a safe, char-like material which could be used for agriculture or water treatment," Prof Shields said.
She dismissed hygiene concerns, saying the process posed less of a risk to human health than the landfill that seeps into and contaminates water and soil.
"The focus of our research is to turn that waste into a resource ... the goal would be to turn this waste into an income stream," Prof Shields said.
Researchers have engaged one Queensland hospital, which Prof Shields declined to name, but say they need further funding to expand the project.