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{Past Event} - Greening the OR: Reusable Hard Cases for Surgery

February 9, 2012 - 2:00 pm - February 9, 2012 - 3:00 pm -- Eastern Standard Time


Disposable blue sterile wrap, made of polypropylene plastic (#5) , is used to wrap kits for different procedures prior to sterilization and delivery to the surgery suite. After the kit is opened, the sterile blue wrap is thrown away, creating approximately 19% of the waste generated in surgical services . Hospitals have explored a variety of mechanisms for reducing blue wrap waste including recycling this plastic at some sites. But beyond recycling, there is a viable option for source reduction of this material. As a mechanism to reduce the waste generated by blue wrap, and avoid new purchase costs for blue wrap, many organizations are opting to purchase reusable rigid metal sterilization cases to replace the blue wrap. These containers are sterilized and then brought to the OR on the supply cart and generate no waste—except for the occasional filter. While there is an up-front financial investment for the reusable sterilization cases, the payback period is often short, as avoided costs for blue wrap purchase and avoided waste disposal fees quickly add up. Come and hear from hospitals who have made the transition to reusable hard cases for surgical kits and learn more about the business case for moving your organization in this direction.


  • Describe the use and prevalence of blue sterile wrap in the OR, its purpose in protecting patient health and the waste and cost implications of its use
  • Identify key stakeholders who play a role in the implementation of the purchase and use of rigid sterilization containers, as well as the staff education, engagement and implementation plan for transitioning to use of rigid containers—including barriers to implementation
  • Highlight the process for developing a cost analysis of the benefits of moving to reusable containers
  • Explain how reusable containers may decrease the need for flash sterilization due to torn sterile wrap on OR kits


Kai Abelkis, Boulder Community Hospital, Sustainability Coordinator, EVS 
Kai Abelkis has been Boulder Community Hospital’s Sustainability Coordinator since 1999.  To minimize the hospital’s environmental footprint, Kai is responsible for reducing waste, conserving energy, promoting alternative transportation, utilizing alternative energy sources, conserving water, integrating environmental preferable purchasing, green building practices eliminating latex and PVC from the product line and educating staff. BCH’s Foothills hospital is the first LEED certified medical facility in the world.  BCH is part of a growing choir of medical institutions who recognize that the health of our environment is directly connected to the health of our community. Kai will share the story of how a simple request to attain Zero Waste ended in saving Boulder Community Hospital over $150,000 in sterile wrap in les then 1 year.  This accomplishment came from BCH’s commitment toward empowering it’s employees to align their values with their sustainable efforts.

Sara Lourie, MetroWest Medical Center, Resource Coordinator for Surgical Services & Green Team Chair
Sara Lourie is the Resource Coordinator for Surgical Services at MetroWest Medical Center in Massachusetts.  She also sits as the Chair of the Greening the OR Committee at Metrowest Medical Center, and is an active member of the Hospital Green Team. She has also been a surgical technologist at MetroWest for six years.


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