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Archive January 2015 XVI, No. 1

Simple Steps for Going Greener

You don't have to go to the ends of the earth for your environmental efforts.

David Bernard, Senior Associate Editor


Green Team GO GREEN Environmental practices are still an important consideration for most surgical leaders.

When Memorial Hospital in York, Pa., set out to reduce its environmental impact a few years ago, members of its "Green Team" toured the local waste management company handling their output to see what really happens to the trash when it leaves the hospital. "This awareness was key to getting everyone on board with going green," says Pam Neiderer, RN, BSN, CNOR, director of surgical services. You don't have to go as far as Memorial Hospital's staffers did to go green. Here are some readers' suggestions for simple ways any facility can reduce waste.

Several sources have named the surgical industry as one of the nation's leading generators of waste. While much medical refuse is unavoidable, bound for the landfill or incinerator, a broad recycling program can reduce a facility's footprint and benefit its bottom line.

"We separate our clean recyclable waste in clear green trash bags. We are able to place this and all our cardboard boxes into the recycling dumpster," says Dallas Freyer, RN, CASC, administrator of the Corpus Christi Outpatient Surgery Center and Surgicare of Corpus Christi, in Texas. "It has not only provided us a 'going green' opportunity, but also a savings opportunity as this is a cheaper pickup and we were able to reduce the number of regular pickups."

A facility's recycling options aren't limited to paper, plastic and aluminum, though. Some readers separate supply wrappers, batteries and even device components out of their waste streams. "We send shaver blades, wands and cannulas out as part of a recycling program," says Linda Mae Ruterbories, ANP, the surgical center director at the OA Centers for Orthopaedics in Portland, Maine. At Minnesota Valley Surgery Center in Burnsville, Minn., staff "save used cautery cords containing copper and recycle them for cash," says Sonja Wilcox, RN, CNOR, operating room supervisor. "We donate the proceeds to our favorite charity." Contact your municipality, local waste management businesses and vendors to determine what's possible in your area.

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