Recycling in the Healthcare Setting

Evi Dewhurst

Recycling in the Healthcare Setting

At Medela, we share your goal to help future generations thrive. In an effort to meet that goal above and beyond the clinical setting, we have incorporated green initiatives into our corporate structure, allowing us to take part in protecting our beautiful planet for today’s youth.

Going green is an increasingly necessary goal nowadays, from the household to our professional lives. It took society at large many years to get to this point, where it is commonplace to see different recycle waste bins and green waste bins, waiting to be carried away to a new life and reduce landfill waste. The wait was worth it.

Take a look at these numbers:

In 1980, Americans generated 166 million tons of trash.

In 2011, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash.

In 1980, 71 million tons of trash was recycled or composted.

In 2011, 86 million tons of trash was recycled or composted.

This increase prevented the release of 183 million metric tons of
carbon dioxide equivalent into the air in 2011. Wow!

Nowadays large corporations and facilities are looking to do what they can to make a difference. We are all familiar with common recyclable products such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and some metals. Yet what your institution can contribute may be vastly beyond such a simple list. Important steps to consider when preparing a recycle program on a large scale need a clear plan and outline. In regards to this daunting task, The Health Facilities Management website posted an article on developing a successful hospital recycling program with these structured suggestions:

Perform an audit

This step is primarily to answer questions such as: what are current disposal practices? What are disposal locations? How are different types of waste handled?

Identify local resources

What facilities are in the area, how materials will be sorted, locations and different types of waste are all considerations.

Establish goals

An environmental or sustainability committee can contribute to establishing timelines, sustainability and well-defined metrics.

Maximize the value of materials

The environmental committee can work with outside partners or brokers to ensure the best value for recycled materials.

Educate staff

Successful recycling is only possible through staff education and awareness.

Monitor and Measure

Original projections of the program should be measured and weighed, allowing for updating of goals and targets.

Earn recognition for the facility

Outreach programs should be employed to highlight the successful recycling efforts of the facility.

Does your medical facility currently employ a recycling program? If so, how can you contribute to make it even more successful? And if not, perhaps you yourself can initiate the change. This is for more than a simple black and white goal outlined on paper. It’s for the sustainability of our environment and the lives we share it with.

We can make a difference… together.

 

Resources:

Read more interesting facts on recycling here:

http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm

 

Read the full article “Waste Not: Developing a Hospital Recycling Program” on the Health Facilities Management website:

http://www.hfmmagazine.com/hfmmagazine/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HFMMAGAZINE/Article/data/01JAN2011/0111HFM_FEA_enviro&domain=HFMMAGAZINE

About the Author

Evi Dewhurst is a Senior Manager, Marketing Communications for Medela, Inc. As a proud mother of two young children, she is passionate about healthcare for youngsters everywhere and has a serious soft spot for babies. She is part of the dedicated team at Medela, who together are committed to designing and manufacturing products to advance human milk healthcare. Have a question? Evi can be reached at evi.dewhurst@medela.com

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