SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Upstate University Hospital is the first hospital in the county to be recognized for its recycling efforts by the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. The hospital was named a Blue Ribbon Recycler by OCRRA in recognition of the institution’s commitment to the environment and its extensive recycling initiatives.
“Our Blue Ribbon recyclers have earned this distinction because they have demonstrated their environmental leadership when it comes to recycling and waste reduction,” said David Nettle of OCRRA. “Upstate has done a tremendous job running an efficient and effective recycling, waste reduction and reuse program.”
As part of its Engaging Excellence initiative, Upstate launched a “Think Green” campaign last year that included a campus-wide recycling program, Recycling Starts with You. The program made it easy for employees to recycle by purchasing and placing recycling bins in convenient locations across campus to collect paper magazines, catalogs, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles, metal cans and other plastic containers.
Additionally, Upstate’s Purchasing and Environmental Services departments reexamined policies to ensure recycling options were understood.
Numbers show that the initiative has been successful. In 2011 the amount of recycled bottles, plastic and cans in the hospital alone has increased to approximately 4,000 pounds per month compared to 1,125 pounds per month in 2010. Total weight of recycling materials collected in 2010 was 541 tons, up from 504 tons in 2009.
Upstate officials say the enhanced recycling efforts could go a long way to saving the university thousands of dollars in disposal costs.
Here are some of the things Upstate recycles:
– Used computers, monitors and electronic equipment
– Plastic, glass, aluminum, paper
– Construction and demolition debris
– Motor oil
– Organic materials, such as leaves, wood chips, and grass clippings
– Printer cartridges
– Cell phones
– Light bulbs
– Phone books
– Hardcover or paperback books
In addition to recycling, Upstate has implemented the following strategies as part of its broader sustainability initiative:
– Purchased recycled floor mats, floor-cleaning machines that use less water and chemicals
– Launched review of new products to recycle, such as disposable curtains and sterile wrap
– Developed a mercury reduction program that seeks to replace mercury thermometers and pressure cuffs with less hazardous, digital and alcohol thermometer
– Launched review of light systems and fluorescent bulb recycling programs
– Initiated a collaborative recycling partnership with the Upstate Foundation and Wal-Mart to collect used cell phones and printer cartridges, with proceeds benefiting Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Thomas Pelis, assistant vice president for facilities and planning, who chairs the university’s Sustainability Task Force, acknowledged the work of many who have helped Upstate achieve recognition and move forward with its work to be a good steward of the environment.
“Our departments of Environmental Health and Safety, and Environmental Services took the leadership role in this initiative, but our efforts have relied on the ideas and energies of employees all across our campus who have embraced these efforts wholeheartedly,” he said. “Our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. Our recycling and sustainability efforts help us support that mission.”