Hospitals around the country are searching for ways to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. Blue wrap, trays, Tyvek and other materials are discarded as “clean” medical waste in large volumes. However, oftentimes the closed system of a hospital or operating room presents a unique opportunity for collection, segregation and recycling of these materials.
One approach to a successful recycling program requires taking a new look at the hospital’s involvement with waste haulers and other businesses, like document destruction vendors, that already come to the location and may be open to expanding their services. Local non-profit organizations such as Goodwill Industries are potential partners for helping to sort the mixed plastic waste into different recycling bales of sufficient size for plastic recyclers.
HPRC identified two such hospital-led recycling programs: Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with Goodwill Industries and the Cleveland Clinic’s partnership with Rumpke Recycling and Buckeye Industries, a subsidiary of New Avenues to Independence. The programs follow a similar model, where the recycling entity collects waste from the hospital and then bales materials for bulk sale. And while unfortunately neither program is still currently in operation, there is still much to be learned from the efforts of the participating hospitals.
Through extensive interviews, HPRC has put together best practices for implementing a partnership program like this, as well as a deeper dive into the specifics of each hospital’s partnership, their methods for recycling and transportation, and the lessons learned.
The lesson from the Kaiser Permanente and Cleveland Clinic partnerships is to look for areas where you can strengthen your partnership, explore new opportunities, and understand that starting a smaller partnership sets you up for success in the long-run. Both hospitals reflect on their partnerships as successes for increasing community and staff engagement and for providing insights that may help other hospitals establish similar programs.
Please consider opportunities to partner with industries in your community to help support your plastics recycling program, and read on for more great information to help support your program, whatever stage it is in.