Resource Recycling Systems operated a Waste and Recycling Management Program at 11 health system campuses in Michigan and northern Indiana. This case study shows how we were able to increase recycling levels while simultaneously providing financial savings to the health system.
Enhanced Recycling Programs
Recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, and plastic typically made up at least 50% of a hospital’s waste stream. Our challenge was to capture this potential recyclable volume in the hospital setting, while avoiding contamination of recyclables or improper handling of regulated wastes. RRS coordinated a variety of recycling programs throughout the health system:
- Cardboard ‐ 10 programs
- Easy capture from shipping/receiving
- Paper ‐ 6 programs
- Recycled through confidential document programs
- Bottles and Cans ‐ 3 programs
- Collected from kitchen and public areas
- Mixed Plastics ‐ 2 programs
- Captured from food service, linen, labs and Operating Rooms
- Scrap Metal ‐ 1 program
- Construction and renovation projects
Measuring Benefits – Tracking Data
RRS monitored waste data from vendor invoices in a “scorecard” format for each location in the program, measuring equipment efficiency and recycling rates. This allowed hospitals in the program to view their entire waste stream at a glance, and track the effects of construction projects, new programs, and changing levels of patient activity.
What does tracking your waste stream mean from a sustainability perspective? RRS measured the recycling program not just in tons, but also in its impact on pollution and natural resource use. Using statistics from sources such as the EPA and the Northeast Recycling Council, we translated the health system’s recycling efforts for 2008‐2009 into the environmental benefits.
RRS’ recycling programs produced financial savings in two ways. First, many of the locations received per‐ton rebates on recycled materials. Second, all recycled material that would otherwise have to be sent to a landfill at a per‐ton cost – provided avoided costs by recycling the material. In 2008 alone, the health system’s recycling programs saved a total of over $109,000.
RRS provided contract management services for waste and recycling at the 11 health system locations, coordinating pickup, transport and recycling/disposal.
- RRS negotiated pricing with substantial cost savings through bundled contract services.
- RRS provided consolidated invoicing, contract enforcement and dedicated customer service.
- Services included monitoring the cost and performance of all recycling and waste service providers.