Dentists and the Environment

What are some of the ways that dentists are helping the environment?

1. The Dentists for Cleaner Water (DCW) Program

Between 2008 and 2011 the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch teamed with the Victorian Water Industry and Environmental Protection Authority in Victoria to promote the installation and use of dental amalgam separators in private sector dental practices. Amalgam separators help filter out amalgam from waste water before it reaches our sewerage systems.

The Victorian Government offered all private sector dentists a rebate to purchase and install amalgam separators and enter into an dental amalgam waste collection agreement. As a result of this project, over 700 separators were installed in practices throughout Victoria.

What were the benefits of the DCW program?

The DCW program achieved success in reducing the amount of dental amalgam waste released into the environment. Installation of dental amalgam separators and other measures can reduce dental amalgam waste into the water system by 95%. The DCW program demonstrated an effective example of a program through which health professionals could voluntarily participate in positive environmental action.

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgam is a very stable metal complex  used as a filling material to repair teeth for hundreds of thousands of people each year in Australia. Dental amalgam is a popular choice, as it is strong, cost effective and can last a lifetime.

Is dental amalgam safe?

On the basis of the extensive research over many years the use of dental amalgam has been declared as safe for use as a dental filling material. The World Health Organisation and the International Dental Federation have released a joint statement confirming the safety of dental amalgam as a filling material.1

The ADA believes there is no positive gain in having dental amalgam fillings replaced with other materials, other than for aesthetic reasons. 

2. Waste Reduction

  • Purchasing in bulk to reduce packaging and transportation costs
  • Setting printers for double-sided and greyscale printing
  • Implementing digital technology for imaging, dental records and marketing
  • Limiting single use items

3. Energy Conservation

  • Installing LED lights in administrative/staff area
  • Installing solar cells on the roof
  • Switching off electrical equipment and Air Conditioning at night (at power)

4. Reuse/Recycle

  • Utilising Re-useable face shields
  • Re-using lab and postal boxes
  • Considering instrument recycling, which turns dental instruments into industrial metal 
  • Using recycled copy paper
  • Using a shredding service that recycles
  • Looking for council recycling of electrical equipment and batteries


1 FDI World Dental Federation, WHO Consensus Statement on Dental Amalgam, in FDI Policy Statement, FDI World Dental Federation, Editor. 1997, FDI World Dental Federation, Dubai.



Amalgam Separator Rebate Claim Policy and Procedures

It is the policy of the ADAVB when processing amalgam separator rebate claims:

  • to only recognise original receipts and claim forms
  • to pay only $1000 per practice or
  • to pay 20% of the cost of supply and installation of ISO 11 143 compliant amalgam separators. 


Lodgement of documents

  • Claim forms and supporting documents delivered by mail to ADAVB.
  • Once date stamped by reception, all forms forwarded to Project Manager for review.
  • Originals only of Rebate Claim forms (delivered by mail or in person) to be processed. If duplicates are received the practice will be contacted by the Project Manager to request
  • Each form to be annotated and initialled – “Received IC [Date]”
  • Key data from the form entered into project database and attach documentation to be scanned on the Konica Bizhub600 and saved into a Project Directory maintained by Project Manager, these files are then uploaded into the Scanned Rebate Forms document exchange.
  • Duplicate receipts and claim forms will not be processed and the claimant will be advised if they wish to receive a rebate then original documentation must be submitted.

Before processing the payment request a number of checks and calculations are required.

  • Check that the form reference number aligns with the batch issued to the installer on the form. If not contact the installer to verify that the installation was not done by them.
  • When calculating 20% of the cost of supply and installation of ISO 11 143 complaint amalgam separators, receipts must itemised to separate other costs, and only those costs specifically related to the purchase and installation of the amalgam separator/s will be used to determine the rebate amount.
  • Where dry suction is used, claims for multiple separators will be accepted.
  • Where wet suction is used, a claim for only one separator should usually be processed.  Contact will be made with the practice where more than one separator is claimed for in a wet suction environment.  That contact will seek further explanation and documentation and/or photographic evidence to support the processing of a claim for a larger sum
  • The Project Manager will have authority to contact “Service person” (i.e. Installer) if more in formation is needed on work done at dental practice.
  • On site ‘inspection’ could be required to ascertain support re ‘claims’ from Claimant..


  • Once satisfied that claim for rebate from Claimant is bona fide, the Project Manager will submit for payment data to justify same and payment request to the ADAVB CEO for approval.
  • The CEO then passes the payment authorisation onto ADAVB Accountant for processing.
  • The DAVB Accountant to prepare cheque drawn on the ADAVB General A/C for co-signing by 2 authorised ADAVB signatories.
  • Signatories co-sign and return cheques to ADAVB Accountant.
  • The ADAVB Accountant files copies of all relevant documentation and returns signed cheques to the Project Manager.
  • The Project Manager then sends the rebate cheque along with cover note and a recognition certificate to the practice. 
  • The project database is updated to show rebate paid.


Meet with Accountant to agree on cheques sent during past Month for record purposes.


Report of summary sent to Steering Committee.


Summary sent to Steering Committee on previous 12 months activity and also forwarded to ADAVB.

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