Dundalk Hospital Lead the Way in Promoting Recycling
It’s estimated that the average hospital generates more than 5 million tons of waste each year making them responsible for at least 1% of all non-residential landfill waste. Hospitals like any other organization should be embracing recycling as standard practice. The benefits of an effective hospital recycling program are wide ranging from reducing operational costs, increase worker safety to enhance community relations.
Medical waste is considered one of the most complex waste streams of any industry. Waste include trash (solid waste),Recyclables (paper, cardboard),Compostable (organics), Biohazards (sharp objects, red bag),Hazardous (chemicals) and Radioactive waste.
A waste management group was established in Dundalk hospital led by Consultant Vikash Singh with representative from RCSI HG, hospital management, support services, nursing, catering, maintenance, infection control, Healthy Ireland and PANDA the external waste provider company. The aim of the group is to promote the recycling of waste in the hospital.
A waste audit was conducted which involved collecting, measuring, and monitoring all waste over a week as well as looking at other practices such as waste hauling schedules and bin placement. The information gathered determined the hospital waste diversion rate and identify areas for improvement. At the time it was discovered that less that 10% of the hospital waste was being recycled.
A survey of staff found that staff would welcome the opportunity to segregate the waste generated in the hospital. Recycle stations were established throughout the hospital to properly collect the items that are most often used and encourage waste segregation. High impact recycling graphics provided by PANDA clearly communicate to users what items belong in what stream.
Compost is a key component of any serious waste reduction program and can have a big impact on hospital’s waste diversion. The catering manager took on this challenge and not only has a compost station been installed in the canteen compostable cups, plates and cutlery have been introduced.
Education is key and a Waste Management Education Awareness event was conducted in the hospital in the week of 22th June. Exhibitors from PANDA waste and STERICYLE were there on the days to provide advice and education. The new canteen compostable cups and plates were launched and each of the staff were given an RCSI HG reusable mug. There was great excitement on the day as staff completed in the quiz competitions. The winner of the SKIP sponsored by PANDA was Mary Hanratty and Gift Hamper sponsored by Sterical was Julie Michell
It is only early stages yet in the recycle challenge but the hospital are already at 17% recycling with the aspiration of reaching 30% by the end of the year. Michelle Connor the Hospital Manager believes that “all this can be achieved through the dedication and commitment of the staff of Dundalk Hospital”.