Do you know what likely crowds the largest portion of your community's landfill space? According to waste disposal experts, it's probably your local hospital. In addition to standard waste disposal, hospitals pay premiums for Regulated Medical Waste with its own set of strict guidelines.
"Top award winning hospitals generate 30 pounds of waste per staffed bed per day -- that's a lot of waste," said Sherry MacDonald with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. "Because waste is a visual representation of environmental degradation (easy to measure) and a clear indicator of inefficiency, it's often one of the first areas that a hospital addresses on their sustainability journey."
Inova Health System has saved a quarter-million-dollars in a little over a year by recycling more and reducing its Regulated Medical Waste Stream by more than one million pounds.
Parkridge Health System in Chattanooga, Tennessee is also on its way to saving by redirecting 160,000 pounds of recycling away from a landfill.
These hospital systems are leaders in the nationwide effort called the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. HHI is a voluntary program that supports hospitals in sustainability efforts like waste reduction, as well as energy savings, healthier foods and using safer chemicals. Founding hospitals are demonstrating that making more thoughtful decisions in these areas can yield measurable savings and improve public relations.
HHI's MacDonald underscored how small changes can be good for more than one type of bottom line. "Improving segregation of red bag waste to less than 10% of total waste, for example, is a great way to reduce costs and help justify more costly programs down the road. Recycling and red bag reduction are the stepping stones to green buildings, healing gardens on the roofs of cancer centers and locally sourced foods."
If you are a health care professional, you can learn more about the HHI program here
. If you're a patient, you can check the directory
to see which of your local hospitals has become an HHI member.