A hospital’s waste stream can be complex, but understanding the makeup of your waste stream and what portion of that could be impacted by a recycling program is vital. Using some basic benchmarks, HPRC has put together an equation to help you characterize the waste stream at your hospital.
Healthcare facilities in the United States generate approximately 14,000 tons of waste per day. It is estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of that 14,000 tons can be attributed to plastic packaging and plastic products. In addition, 85 percent of the waste generated is non-infectious.
Based on this general information, an initial estimate of the amount of plastics available for recycling at your hospital can be calculated as follows:
Total Estimated Amount of Plastics Available for Recycling (tons/year) = Total Amount of Hospital Waste (tons/year) x 25% x 85%
NOTE: While this equation helps determine the overall clean healthcare plastic waste stream, not all clean healthcare plastics are readily recyclable. Contact your recycling partner to evaluate acceptable plastics for recycling
You can also reference the Economic Analysis Tool for assistance in calculating quantities and costs of plastics recycling.
HPRC is conducting plastics recycling pilot studies with leading hospitals across the country and will publish additional hospital waste characterization data as the pilot studies are completed.