Healthcare Sustainability Blog Series

Part 3 of 4: Implementation

Nicole Chardoul
RRS Vice President

The third step to strengthening your healthcare sustainability program after assessment and planning is implementation.  You’ve done your routine program check-up to identify accomplishments, opportunities, and gaps. You have set new goals and priorities, and ran the business case to understand the resources needed and potential benefits.  Now, it’s time to implement!

Take one priority at a time – spread them out over an established timeline so that you realize success before jumping into everything at once.  For each priority or initiative, you should develop guidelines and best practices for all parties to follow. For example, rolling out an operating room recycling program will require purchasing of a specific size and color container, locating the containers in the operating room, as well as identifying roles of the purchasers, clinicians, techs, housekeepers, facilities, hauler, and recycler to ensure a smooth process.

All the assumptions should be worked and written out in detail ahead of time, and then communicated through an education program.  This will include logistics, responsibilities, costs, and data collection. Not only are guidelines required internally, but it may be necessary to procure and negotiate a new contract for supplies or services. Sometimes you can bundle several sustainability initiatives into one larger priority – this is usually beneficial if the project requires procurement or contract changes.

Remember, start as simple as possible and then add more later. For example, start with clean, single resin, rigid plastics such as irrigation bottles and drinking water bottles made from PET.  Then, once you witness success and all parties are happy with the results, you can begin to add other rigid plastics such as trays and other clean packaging – as long as you can collect them, store them, and your recycler accepts them.  A controlled roll out will also allow you to identify and learn from any obstacles while you build upon the successes.

Next in the Healthcare Sustainability blog series: Reporting.

Did you miss parts 1 and 2? Check them out here: