Archive November 2019 XX, No. 11

Ideas That Work: Going Green

Hanging Recycling Bags Saves Space

Barbara Bevan-Abel, RN
HANGING AROUND Barbara Bevan-Abel, RN, made it a mission to provide a convenient, space-saving recycling option.

Are you sure your staff is diverting recyclable materials from white bag waste? For 2 weeks I gathered and weighed recycling bags filled during procedures, and analyzed the contents to determine if all of the items in the bags were recyclable. I discovered staff was contaminating nearly 50% of the recycling materials with trash, leading to 600 pounds of recycling unnecessarily going to the landfill. Our surgical team said they wanted to recycle items, but there wasn't enough space in the smallish ORs of our older hospital for recycling bins. That's when I decided to hang blue recycling bags from white hooks attached to the wall and presented the idea at a staff meeting. Members of the surgical team bought into the concept and began to find creative ways — tying the bags to suction cords or trash containers — to hang the bags to free up floor space. I took pictures of where their hanging spots and emailed them to the rest of the team. After a few months, I again collected the recycling bags filled during procedures and discovered we only contaminated 2% of items that should be recycled.

Barbara Bevan-Abel, RN
University of California San Francisco (Calif.) Medical Center

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