A single knee arthroplasty produces more waste than a family of 4 generates in an entire week, according to a study in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.

 Researchers from Western University in London, Ontario, audited 5 total knee replacements performed by a single surgeon at the London Health Sciences Centre, categorizing the discarded material into 6 streams: regular solid waste, recyclable plastics, biohazard waste, laundered linens, sharps and blue sterile wrap.  Based on the findings, the researchers implemented numerous strategies aimed at increasing OR sustainability, including a surgical recycling program, proper segregation of waste at the front line, a “just in time” model for pulling supplies, vendor education to reduce excessive packaging and a potential transition to reusable linens.

Healthcare leaders who recognize the importance of heightened environmental awareness will spur efforts to green the OR, say the study’s authors. “The emergence of sustainable waste management strategies,” they add, “combined with a growing interest in greening health care may allow ORs to reduce the negative impacts of waste production without compromising patient care.”

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