Hospitals generate, on average, over 30 pounds of waste per bed, per day, based on the Practice Greenhealth Sustainability Benchmark Report. Unlike in a teenager’s room, however, we can’t turn around, shut the door, and say, “not my problem.” But in some ways, a hospital does just that when it simply pays the bill without taking a closer look at waste prevention and recycling opportunities. In so doing it wastes valuable resources, both material and financial.

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative’s (HHI)Less Waste Challenge is an antidote to the chaos—it provides some basic guidance and win-win opportunities for gathering baseline data, reducing red bags, increasing recycling and recycling/diverting construction and demolition debris from construction and renovation projects. The goals of the challenge were designed to achieve good results right from the start, and to begin taking control of this continuous flow of material.

Commonly diverted items single-use device reprocessing.  Although some single-use devices and the reusable containers themselves are eventually recycled, they are not counted in recycling rates in the Practice Greenhealth Awards program. It’s hard to ascertain the frequency of this recycling and its impact on individual sites. A vendor may report that 90 percent of single-use devices are recycled, but that doesn’t mean that 90 percent of what a hospital reprocesses is recycled.

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