The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council and Stanford Hospital & Clinics have concluded a six-month pilot study that analyzes data related to recyclable material types, volumes and flow through nine hospital departments, as well as documents clinical recycling processes and lessons learned.
The study developed comprehensive waste profiles across procedural, patient care and ancillary areas including operating room, ambulatory surgery, cardiac cath lab, interventional radiology, pre- and post-anesthesia, pharmacy and radiology at Stanford Hospital and Clinics in Palo Alto, Calif.
“We set out to gain a better understanding of plastic waste characterization within healthcare facilities and, through the tenacious leadership of Stanford, we now have detailed insight and process recommendations for efficient, high-quality and cost-effective recycling of plastics,” says Tod Christenson, director of HPRC. “The results of this pilot will provide invaluable experience-based guidance to other hospitals seeking to establish a plastics recycling program in clinical settings.”
Stanford Hospital & Clinics clinical recycling program to-date will divert more than 110 tons of non-infectious packaging material from landfill annually, with plastics representing nearly 70 percent of that material. This will add an additional 9 percent of diversion to its 2012 diversion of 2,846 tons.
In addition, Stanford has realized significant financial benefit associated with the program, as recycling collection offered a 75 percent cost savings compared to municipal waste collection. The pilot study was fully funded and implemented by Stanford Hospital & Clinics with technical support provided by HPRC.
“Clinical recycling is an important part of our overall sustainable waste management strategy here at Stanford,” says Krisanne Hanson, director of sustainability, Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “We will continue to expand our recycling efforts throughout our hospital and clinics using the data and knowledge collected during this study to estimate diversion targets, inform planning and rollout strategies and drive program improvements. It’s truly an honor to be able to share our experiences and best practices with other hospitals seeking greater sustainability around clinical recycling.”