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Setting a Plastics Recycling Benchmark

BY ALISON BRYANT

HPRC, Covidien and Practice Greenhealth present key results from a survey on plastic packaging and products recycling in U.S. hospitals

Health care facilities in the United States generate approximately 14,000 tons of waste per day,1 most of which is disposed of in landfills or by incineration. It’s estimated that between 20 percent and 25 percent of that 14,000 tons can be attributed to plastic packaging and plastic products.2 In addition, it’s estimated that 85 percent of the hospital waste generated is nonhazardous, meaning it is free from patient contact and contamination.3


Environmental Benefits From Recycling Plastics

Recycling one ton of plastic saves:

  • 16.3 barrels of oil4
  • 30 cubic yards of landfill space4
  • 5,774 Kwh of energy,4 enough to power an average house for six months5


While hospitals have been champions of recycling for decades, efforts have largely focused on food service and administrative functional areas and not on patient care settings where the majority of health care plastic materials are in fact generated. To establish a baseline characterization of current plastics recycling activity across the U.S. health care system, and, in particular, to better understand the challenges limiting plastics recycling in patient care areas, the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) in collaboration with Practice Greenhealth recently conducted a survey, receiving responses from 207 individual healthcare professionals representing individual hospitals, or in some cases hospital networks, that include as many as 663 hospitals nationwide.

The survey was sent to health care professionals across Facilities, EHS (Environment, Health and Safety), Environmental Services, Procurement, Sustainability and Clinical Staff departments. Targeting clean, noninfectious plastic waste materials, the survey sought to distinguish what the current activity level is and the types of both products and packaging being collected and recycled from various clinical settings. The survey also explored general recycling practices, including material accumulation methods, equipment use and waste hauling of recovered plastics. 

Complete Article

Comments

Photo Of
Recycling Tyvek and Blue Wrap
Submitted by on April 2, 2015 - 11:26 am

Is anyone out there recycling Tyvek and blue wrap as described in this article? The article says Tyvek can be mixed in with #2 plastics and blue wrap with #5 plastics. For that matter is anyone separating their plastics to this degree? Our recycling vender will not accept Tyvek and Dupont's website only refers to industrial recycling of their product. There's also multiple references to sending Tyvek envelopes to Shirley.

In terms of blue wrap we recently had our vendor quote us a price for recycling of $0.18 per pound. This extra fee is to cover removing the tape and labels which is necessary to get a decent rate for the final 40,000 pound bundle. I am in contact with Halyard Health about their Blue Renew program to see if they have a less costly solution.

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