Success Stories Medical
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH has been a part of the WasteWise program for years and has managed to grow its waste initiatives to span several areas to include recycling, employee education and outreach, green purchasing and charitable giving from its recycling proceeds.
NIHs recycling efforts span a variety of materials including construction and demolition (C&D), electronics, batteries, wood pallets, paper, aluminum, plastics and more.
NIH began a new program in March 2008 for construction debris that was otherwise being disposed of as solid waste. The construction debris is being sent to a construction debris recycling facility. Over ten months in 2008, construction debris tonnage totaled 1,042 tons. This material was being sent to a landfill prior to this program and is now reused or recycled into new construction materials. NIH realized a cost savings of more than $58,000 in 2008 with the inception of this program.
There is a comprehensive employee education and outreach at NIH that promotes recycling. Green Team groups provide instructions on recycling during new employee orientation. For example, the Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff hosts Earth Day and America Recycles Day events each year, which further promote other green initiatives.
It should be noted that the proceeds earned from recycling are reinvested in charitable donations.
University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center has taken significant steps to reduce the volume of plastics sent to the landfill. The Medical Center developed a specialized procedure to collect plastic waste in operating rooms before surgeries begin, preventing contamination and allowing roughly 50 pounds of plastic to be recycled each day. Mercury wastes are a persistent problem, but the University of Chicago Medical Center has successfully replaced nearly all of its thermometers and blood pressure monitors with non-mercury alternatives. A mercury-free purchasing policy bans the additional purchase of mercury-containing items without prior approval.
SRI Surgical provides chain supply management services to hospitals and surgery centers across the US. Hospitals use of SRIs reusable products substantially reduces the amount of waste generated, including bio-hazardous waste.
SRIs original system for reprocessing surgical linen was first implemented in 1992. This systems process took into consideration, the importance of environmentally friendly chemicals, by using products containing safer surfactants such as, phosphate and NPE free chemicals; efficient use of water, in that it allows 76% of incoming water to be reclaimed and 43% of processed water to be reused; and employs an energy saving strategy, with direct fire water heaters that reduce natural gas usage by 35%. The use of this environmentally friendly design for reprocessing surgical linen ensures sustainability for years to come.
Between 2007 an 2009 SRI provided over 1800 different reusable products to healthcare organizations, thus preventing over 14 million pounds of solid and medical wastes. In this same timeframe SRI prevented over 80,000 pounds of waste, recycled almost 80,000 pounds of materials, thereby reducing GHG by over 255 metric tons.