Solid waste is the largest waste stream for health care organizations, comprising two-thirds of all hospital waste. Though relatively straightforward to dispose of, the sheer volume of solid waste consumes more than 30 percent of the hospital’s total waste budget. It is also often called municipal, black bag, clear bag, or non-regulated medical waste.
Solid waste from hospitals resembles the waste generated in other sectors or even from residential neighborhoods: paper, cardboard, food waste, textiles, plastics, and other non-regulated trash, but with more plastic from gloves, catheter bags, and other health care equipment.
While there’s a lot of it, there’s also a tremendous opportunity for hospitals to track this waste, identify opportunities to change, and significantly reduce the amount that ends up in a landfill or incinerator.
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center diverted 297 tons of waste from landfills over the last few years via one simple change: reusable isolation gowns instead of disposable. Cost savings to date is $1.1 million, and the reusable versions are more comfortable and safe.
Practice Greenhealth offers tools and case studies to help our members assess the best way to reduce solid waste. Our goal is to provide step-by-step resources that will make it simpler for any hospital with a waste reduction goal to design, implement, and measure the success of their reduction strategies.
Learn more about common solid waste reduction tactics:
Read how some of our members have reduced solid waste successfully:
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Practice Greenhealth is the health care sector’s go-to source for information, tools, data, resources, and expert technical support on sustainability initiatives that help hospitals and health systems meet their health, financial, and community goals.