Ann Arbor, Michigan – With increasing plastic pollution in our oceans, our food supply and even our own bodies, we are all encouraged to reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate and recycle wherever possible. Masu.
Hospitals are one of the main sources of plastic waste, but recycling items in hospitals is not as easy as remembering to throw them in the trash.
Single-use plastics are used throughout the hospital. They are inexpensive, durable, and help ensure the sterility of patient-contact items.
It’s also incredibly wasteful.
The US healthcare system generates 5.9 million tons of waste annually. About 25% is plastic and most is not recycled.
“This is a huge problem,” said Tony Denton, chief environmental, social and governance officer at the University of Michigan Health College.
Denton explained that the operating room is a big contributor.
“At ours and other hospitals, about 35 percent of our waste comes from the operating room,” says Denton. “Many items used in the operating room, different types of plastic, and different types of packaging are all based on some kind of plastic element. So that is a big focus area for us.”
To reduce that waste, M Health University initiated a recycling pilot program at CS Mott Children’s Hospital and von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.
Operating room staff are trained to identify which items can be recycled, including ‘blue wrap’, plastic packaging, pots, gowns and shoe covers.
All of this comes in a special purple bag. Place non-recyclable items in clear garbage bags.
Items contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids cannot be recycled, but most of the plastic in the operating room is clean.
Some things are hard to change, but this was wholeheartedly accepted.
“The staff are passionate. They see how much waste is being generated every day,” said Christopher Victory, engineer and sustainability officer at Michigan Medicine. “They want to be part of the solution. We’ve seen the news and we know climate change is a problem, but our mission here is to do no harm.” That’s it.”
Ashley Krause is the Director of Clinical Nursing at the CS Mott Pediatric Operating Room in Medicine, Michigan.
“This is really amazing,” Krause said. “I think for many of our staff, this was an eye-opening event. can recycle. We’ve made the process so easy that no additional time or effort is added. “
A six-month pilot program at M University recovered 2.64 tons of medical plastic. Previously, all of it would have been sent to a landfill. What’s your reaction?
“Great,” said Denton. “It’s a ‘Go Blue’ moment because we’re doing something meaningful.”
“There are miracles happening here every day,” said Victory. “We do a lot, great things, but we also know that we have a very wasteful environment. So whatever we can do to divert plastic from landfills, I I think we’re excited about it.”
They emphasize recycling, but plastic doesn’t change anything when it comes to patient care.
“In fact, outside the four walls of the hospital, we are actually improving the health of the communities we serve,” Victory said.
This is just one part of the university’s commitment towards environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality.
Other initiatives include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy dialogue projects, and building a university culture of sustainability.
M University will begin a permanent recycling program at a pilot hospital this week and will gradually expand to other parts of the health system.
“We hope this will inspire other hospitals,” Denton said. “We are part of an organization called Practice Greenhealth, which has about 1,100 organizations in the healthcare sector, all of which are committed to environmental sustainability. One of our efforts is to share lessons learned and best practices so that we can accelerate learning and doing.”
take home lesson —
“We all have a responsibility to do the best we can as a community,” Denton said. “There are too many extreme weather events happening. Whatever we can do should be done to sustain the planet for current and future generations.”
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