Health care facilities in the U.S. generate approximately 6,600 tons of waste per day. It is estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of that 6,600 tons can be attributed to plastic packaging and plastic products. In addition, 85 percent of the waste generated is non-infectious. These statistics, coupled with growing sustainability aspirations, increasing incineration costs and decreasing landfill space, inevitably point to the prospect of increasing diversion at the doctor’s office.
However, one of the largest challenges of recycling health care plastics is finding viable reuse applications for the recycled material. To better understand the potential recycling value of polymeric packaging materials from the hospital waste stream, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC), in collaboration with Plastics Engineering students at Penn State recently concluded a study that tested and analyzed the physical properties associated with various blends of recycled plastics and virgin resin. This article is a summary of the application, results, interpretation and conclusions of the study.
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